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Saturday, December 31, 2011

A New Year's Coming. Are You Ready?

It's New Year's Eve.  As a younger person, this was THE night for me, when I hated it if I didn't have some kind of plans.  Today, plans--or the lack thereof--don't even concern me.  It's funny--but when you live your life like every day is New Year's, every day is a chance to start over, you don't need a countdown or ball drop to make it special!

Still, I wanted to address the fact that this is New Year's Eve by discussing what's different today from years past.  The first and most obvious thing is that I'm 77 pounds lighter than I was at this time last year.  Seventy-seven pounds!  The average 5th grader weighs between 73 and 75 pounds.  I've lost a FIFTH GRADER!  Remarkable!  I feel so much better--I have more energy, my knees hurt less, I'm more confident, I'm aware of bony protuberances.  Seventy-seven pounds!

It's also the first New Year's Eve that I'm single in four years.  Funny how I remember every New Year's Eve for the past four years, although they weren't that momentous.  We just got take-out, either Thai, Chinese or pizza and sat in bed watching Ryan Seacrest.  Nothing special and yet at the time, it felt like it was.  In hindsight, I can see that my ex was fattening me up, making sure I wasn't going to start the new year an ounce lighter.  

And this is probably the first New Year's Eve in my life when I haven't made any "resolutions" only to break them a few weeks into the new year.  I don't need to make any special resolutions just because it's December 31st!  I am on the right track now--and don't have any plans to slow down until my body is ready to do so!

So my pants size has dropped from a 22/24 to a 16 (which is not at all tight, I might add) and in tops, I've gone from a 2X or 3X to a XL.  But more important than sizes is my self-concept.  Having the surgery is second only to going back to school when I was 30 on the list of the best things I've ever done for myself. Of course, breaking up with James is third on that same list!  (lol)  I also want to add that as I make progress, I am growing less and less afraid about "putting all the weight back on".  I've handled my demons and am ready for all the joy that I know life has in store for me.

I had a date yesterday--we went to lunch where we shared an entree and then to a movie.  I had fun, and I may even see him again, unlike the "octopus" from a few weeks ago.  (By the way, he called me while I was in NY, but I didn't take or return the call.  The man obviously cannot take a hint!)  Still, I do enjoy my own company enough to know that if I don't see him again, I'll be fine!  Great, even! :-)

So what are your plans to bring in 2012?  I hope that whatever you do, you do it with love--first for yourself and then for those around you.  Because you deserve it!!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Burying the Dead...

You can’t spend your life in the graveyard of guilt dealing with the corpses of the past. Know when things are dead, know when to release them and bury them. If you continue to work with the dry bones of dead issues, you too will begin to decay. No amount of work will resuscitate a corpse. Sign the death certificate and bury the past.

I borrowed the above from my friend Angie who borrowed it from a friend.  It really struck a chord with me, and I wanted to share it with you.
How many times have you tried to resuscitate a corpse?  Whether it is trying to hold together a relationship that is long over or staying in a dead-end job, we tend to do that.  We tend to hold on to the past--and remember it not clearly but fondly and with warped ideas of what was.  Have you ever thought about reconnecting with an ex just because he/she was known rather than venturing out and trying the unknown?  Have you ever berated yourself for missing an opportunity?  Have you ever said--or even thought--"if only I had another chance..."  If only you had another chance, what?  What would you do?  Magically change the circumstances that caused the death of the relationship in the first place? 

Every day is an opportunity to start again, but tomorrow night (Saturday) is the perfect opportunity to clear your slate and start again. Bury your dead at midnight--and celebrate the new year by actually living!

Have a sensational Saturday, everyone!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I'm Back!!

First, let me say how good it is to be back home with a cat on my lap and WiFi at my fingertips.  That being said, I'm really missing my mom!  She says she's going to sell her house in the spring--I hope that she does. My mom and I are friends--which is pretty special to me!

I had a great time in NY--I got to visit with a lot of friends, including one who may be helping me with a cover design for my young adult novel and whom I've not seen in 20 years!!  It's funny how much more confident I am--feeling comfortable in my own skin enough to go visit him without feeling like I'd "changed too much" since we last saw each other.

Visiting with friends was great, but I spent a lot of time talking about myself--which I don't normally do.  It was a little weird--and rather disconcerting--and I hope my friends weren't put off by it!  And a few questions came up that I thought I'd answer here as well as answering them at the time they were asked.

Jeannie asked if I feel any different inside my body--and the answer to that is yes. There are two times when I feel "different"...one is about thirty minutes after I've eaten.  I swear I can feel myself digesting the food!  It's not an unpleasant sensation but rather a fluttery, bubbling, gnawing sensation that lasts ten to fifteen minutes.  The other time is when I've not eaten in a while--I don't get hungry but I do feel empty.  And when I drink after that emptiness, I feel the liquid go just "so far" and stop.  Before the surgery, when I was truly empty, I could feel the liquid go all the way to the "bottom".  Neither of these two sensations are unpleasant, but to be perfectly honest, YES, I do feel slightly different inside.

Tomorrow I'll answer a few other questions people had for me...and I invite YOU to post your questions as well!  Have a FANTASTIC Friday, my dear readers!!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Post Christmas Present

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas holiday!  Mine was low-key, but wonderful--Mom and I ate dinner out (where we were surrounded by families having Christmas dinner) and then went to see "War Horse", which was wonderful but a bit graphic in its war scenes.  

I hope that you didn't do anything over the holiday that you regret--overeating, overspending, overindulging in alcohol, etc.  But if you did, dust yourself off and begin again. One of my writer friends shared a great quote by George Eliot, "It is never too late to become who you might have been."  So tell me...who would you be?  And what steps are you taking to become that person?

Saturday night is New Year's Eve, a time when people make resolutions to quit smoking, quit drinking, lose weight, etc.  Rather than making a resolution that will last you six weeks max, decide who you want to be and take steps in that direction today.  Don't wait until Saturday...start today  Remember, it's not too late!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Perfect Gift


Christmas is coming—the best you can give to those you love is to love yourself.  It’s an amazing thing—when you love yourself, you’re just happier.  Happier you means happier relationships.  Happier relationships means a happier life at work and at home.  

I’m sure that you’ve put a lot of time and energy into finding just the “right” gifts for your loved ones.  I know that I have always been thrilled with finding the “right” gift.  But this year, I’ve bought fewer gifts than usual—in part because money is tight, but also because I’ve discovered that the best gift I can give to anyone is spending time with them.  People will enjoy spending more time with you when you like spending time with you!

It’s hard for me to get where there’s internet access here, especially during the holiday, so this will be my last post until the 26th or 27th.  Please—take my advice and give yourself and your friends the best gift possible—a happier you.  Be kind to yourself.  Be gentle.  When you screw up—and you will—forgive yourself and move on.  Merry Christmas, everyone…and as always, thank you for reading.  YOU are one of my blessings!

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Five More??

What a difference!  In years past, my trip to New York has involved restaurants, restaurants and more restaurants.  My mom and I are still eating out, but I am making such good choices!  I have to feel really good about that.  Last night, Thao and I went to dinner at the Lost Dog Cafe and then to the movies to see a sneak preview of "The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo".  It was great!  Violent but great!  I ordered grilled chicken with sweet potato fries at dinner--and while I only managed to eat about half of the chicken and five or six sweet potato fries, everything was delicious.  If you've never had sweet potato fries, I highly recommend!  

I haven't seen Thao since June, so she was impressed with my progress.  She said, "I don't think I've ever seen you this small!", and she's right--she hasn't.  I've known her for nearly ten years, and this is the smallest I've been!  Our friend, Robb, was equally complimentary!  It felt SO good! Thao is on her own weight-loss quest and has lost TEN pounds! Yay for her! I think she looks great, too--but she's always been totally adorable, anyway!

If my mom's scales are correct--and there's no reason to think they aren't--I've lost five more pounds!  I weighed in on both her upstairs and her downstairs scales (not sure why she needs two, but...) and the number was the same!  So...that's 76 pounds!  Eeek!  Just 24 away from 100!!  Mind boggling to me!

Mom and I went to the mall earlier today and I found a pair of size 16 jeans that may not fit right now--I haven't tried them yet, but they looked SMALL to me--at Penney's for $6.97!! Really! Marked down from $48 to $6.97!!  I also bought a cute dusty pink top that was marked down from $14.99 to $6.99!  Quite an accomplishment for me to buy clothing!  I haven't been comfortable enough yet to go into a store and go into a dressing room with an armful of clothing, but I'm pretty sure that day is coming!

It's cold and rainy here today; I hope it's warmer where you are! Christmas is almost here--I hope you're with at least someone you love!  Have a wish-filled Wednesday!

Monday, December 19, 2011

What Does Your Tag Say?

As I drove up from NC to NY yesterday, I took note of several personalized license tags.  In Virginia, which is where I spend a large portion of my trip, personalization is very inexpensive--like $10.00/year!  I have personalized tags--LVSHKSPR...which is "I love Shakespeare" without any vowels!  I love seeing people behind me trying to figure out what it means!

On the trip, I saw HEARTMD, which was either a cardiologist or someone who loves Maryland.  (Judging by the expensive nature of the car, I'm pretty sure it was a cardiologist.)  I also saw VIVEART and GOT OUZO. 

I love the option of personalizing our license tags--but what if we had to put our self-esteem out there on a plate?  What would yours say?  CHICKEN?  GOODONE?  Remember, you're limited to 8 spaces.  That doesn't allow you much, so be creative!  And yes, you guessed it--it's a homework assignment. :-)  I want you to creatively express yourself--and your self-esteem, personality, qualities as succinctly as you can--in 8 letters or less!

If I had done this six months ago, my tag would have said SELFHATE or FATCHICK.  Today, with my apologies to Shakespeare, whom I really do love, I think I'd change it to LOVEME.  How about you?  Leave yours in the comments--if you dare!!

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Child of the Seventies...

I love the 70s.  Love the music.  Love the fashion, believe it or not.  Love the 70s...but today I love them even more because...drum roll, please...I've lost 70 pounds!  I am so happy!  I had set a private goal of 70 lbs. by Christmas, but I wasn't sure I was going to get there! But I have!

Saturday was a good day--ran a bunch of errands, visited with a friend I haven't seen in a couple of months, and I went to see the new Sherlock Holmes movie.  It was very good--maybe even better than the first!

And I heard from a friend--a friend who makes my heart flutter.  Maybe it's real...or maybe I'm developing a cardiac condition.  :-)  I think that there are those people who come into our lives and are meant to be there a little while--we learn our lessons from them and they move on.  Then there are those who come in and linger...this one is a lingerer.  Sometimes the lingerer stays while the feelings move on; at other times, the lingerer and the feelings stay...seemingly without end.  With this "friend", the feelings linger as he does...

So...I'm celebrating...the loss of 70 pounds is celebration-worthy.  And so is hearing from my "lingerer"...for however long he stays this time.  Have a sensational Sunday, everyone!

PS: I am en route to NY as you read this; I'll post Monday but during the day--there's no internet at my mom's, so it won't be an early post! 

Saturday, December 17, 2011

What a Wonderful Day!

Friday was GREAT...first, I got to drive to school in my adorable new car.  Then a student gave me the cutest gift, even though I had said no gifts because I'd rather kids spent their money on our Toys for Tots campaign.  I received a package from Kim, my yearbook representative--who knows about my surgery and sent cashews.  Yum...I can eat them AND they provide some protein!!

Then we had lunch as a faculty--about ten of us--at El Tapatio, which was fun.  But the best part of the day was the unexpected, but hoped for, bonus check waiting for me at the end of the day!  Given that I put money down on the car,  I had pretty much decided that the trip to NY would be rather subdued because it was all I could afford.  The bonus check changed that--YAY!  I definitely have to stop making excuses and get some slacks for work--I cannot wear those black jeans anymore--they are huge!

And another thing--this morning, I stood outside my car and had someone take a pic.  I've never been one for full-length pics and here I was, asking someone to take one!

I bought two different types of protein bars at Sam's Club--saving quite a lot of money.  Finally, I heard from "Buddy".  It put a smile on my face--I guess that's a sign!

I had a great Friday, so I want you to have a SUPER Saturday!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Something Old...Something New,..Something Borrowed...and Something BLUE!

Relax!  I'm not getting married!! The "old" is my 2004 Dodge Stratus.  The "borrowed" is a boatload of cash, and the "new" is also the "blue"--I bought a new (to me) Toyota Corolla!! It's a 2010 with 40k miles, and it's a VERY pretty shade of blue--"Blue Streak Metallic". 

Another "old", although they can't possibly be described as old, are two of my former students who came to school to visit me!  Again, lots of hugs and compliments!  I love seeing them come back to school, all grown up!

There's also a potential "new"...I've met someone.  I'll call him "Buddy" until we see where things go, but I will say he and I seem to be a strong match.  More details to follow as they unfurl...

My holiday break begins at 2pm! Yay! Going to NY on Sunday for about ten days.  Have a FABULOUS Friday, everyone!!
PS: I thought it was time to update the picture...This is me with a darling student, Jazmine, who has given me permission to show her adorable face!

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Big AND Beautiful???

Have you ever known a fat woman who reveled in her size?  Who considered herself a BBW (big, beautiful woman for those of you unfamiliar with the vernacular)?  Who dressed in tight, "sexy" clothing and flaunted all she had?  I don't really understand that.  Is it truly self-acceptance or something else?  Can a 350-400 lb woman really love her body?  I read about the woman who was looking to break some kind of "fat woman" record--she wanted to weigh more than 700 pounds. Are these women crazy or supremely confident?

I was not that kind of fat woman.  While I am still fat, I'm thinner than I was, so I feel I can speak about this now. I used to hide behind baggy tops and layers.  I didn't want to "flaunt" my fat--I wanted to camouflage it.  I wanted to hide it.  I wanted the world to somehow be "fooled" into thinking that I wasn't as big as I was.  It worked--in that it made me think I was smaller than I actually was!

My ex wanted me to be proud of my fat--I know that now that he's with a 400-lb woman.  But I couldn't be.  I hated having my photograph taken.  I hated looking in a full-length mirror.  And I spent more time feeling less than sexy.  I tried to ignore the negative thoughts I had, but the truth is, I hated my body.  Any attention I received from a man was welcome--it didn't matter if he was a "loser" who had nothing to offer.  I felt the need to "settle", but no more. 

There are dozens of websites devoted to large women and their admirers.  I have never "advertised" on them to meet men because I wanted a man to love me despite my weight, not because of it!!  But today, I think that my head might just be catching up with my weight!  As I rejected a man who was coming on to me, I thought, "I can do better than that!"  And I can!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Baby Birds and LOTS of Compliments

This is my favorite time of the year, however stressful, because my "baby birds" return from their first semester at college and come visit!  Tuesday I had visits from four of June's graduating class, all of whom look wonderful and were very complimentary about my appearance!

The adjective "amazing" was used several times to describe how I look--and I'm still grinning! I posted a full-length photo on Facebook, (I'll post one here, but the one on Facebook has a student in it. I'm waiting to get another).  People were super complimentary about the photo, too!

I think I have written about how hard it is to get my head around this weight loss.  It's so very strange that I'm sure one has to experience it in order to fully understand it!    Some days I actually feel thinner, but not every day.  I bought new jeans today.  I picked up a pair at Walmart--just $16 because I don't want to put a lot of money into clothing until my weight is somewhat stable.  Now for the news: I bought size 16 jeans.  For those of you who are thin, you're probably horrified at that size, but think about the fact that four months ago, I was wearing a tight size 22!  I didn't think for a second that the 16s would fit me, though.  Even though I am down 66 pounds.  Even though my 18-20 jeans are way too big, I didn't believe the 16s would fit.  Well, they do.  They are a little snug, but they fit.  I didn't have to lie down to get them over my stomach or any of the other dramatic things I've seen women do to fit into too-small jeans. I honestly have NO idea the last time I was able to wear size 16 jeans!

One of my "baby birds" mentioned how happy I look.  I am happy.  Unbelievably happy.  I'm not sure if I've ever felt this good about myself, about my health, about life in general.  I'm really truly happy.  And I hope you are as well.  Have a wonder-filled Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dodging a Bullet!

I was listening to music today--Elton John's "Someone Saved My Life Tonight".  Wow, did that resonate!  I really do feel that someone saved my life--I dodged a real bullet!  Twice within the last nine months, I interviewed with a school in Wilmington, which is where my ex lives.  The interviews went well; in fact, I was really surprised when I didn't get hired after the first interview!  And then when they called me for another opening less than three months later, I felt certain that they were going to hire me! Thank God they didn't!!

It's funny how often that happens--we think we want something that we don't get and are crushed.  Then something fabulous/horrible/both happens that reminds us that getting what we wanted would have been just awful!! "Be careful for what you wish for--you may get it" has been attributed to Confucius, but I couldn't find any proof he had actually said it.  However, it's excellent advice.  We should be careful for what we wish--how many times have you wished for something that you DID get and later thought, "damn!"? 

I don't know how I feel about a "supreme being"...I tend to be a bit agnostic these days, I'm afraid, but whether you call it/him or her "God", "Allah", "Fate" or simply "the Universe", someone or something had other plans for me.  Instead of being trapped in Wilmington with a man who wanted me to stay fat, I'm in Tarboro/Rocky Mount 66 pounds lighter!  I am happier than I could ever have imagined--and for that I say to whomever, "THANK YOU!"

Monday, December 12, 2011

Baggage Claim...

A common metaphor is "life is a journey".   And for any journey we make, we have to take along our luggage.  How we carry those bags makes a difference in how well we enjoy the trip!

Have you ever people-watched at the airport?  I love to watch people.  There are those experienced travelers who wheel a single bag through the airport, looking calm and collected.  There are those who have flown a few times but still over-pack and struggle with that heavy carry-on.  And then there are those who either have never flown or who fly so infrequently that they forget.  You know them by their matching three-piece luggage set and flustered look on their faces as they drag their heavy bags to the ticket counter.

Yesterday, I had lunch with my former fiance.  He's already deep in a relationship, (I broke up with him at the beginning of September and he met her by the month's end) and at first, I was crushed by the news--not because I want him back, but because to me, his rushing into another relationship seemed to invalidate the importance of our relationship.  I say at first, because I've had time to mull it over.  That's his baggage--not mine.  He and I were both damaged--and I think we did the best we could with the time we had together.  He had been honest with me when he told me he didn't think he could be attracted to me if I lost weight--I saw a picture of his new woman, and she's much larger than I was.  I told him yesterday that his attraction to larger women was one of his bags--he was badly hurt by a very thin woman when he was younger.  He wasn't sure he agreed, but to me, it makes perfect sense.  It also explains why we spent so much time eating when we were together--and why he didn't throw away the junk food I asked him to discard when I was in the hospital having my surgery.  But like I said, that's his baggage--not mine!

How we carry our emotional baggage affects how we make this journey called life.  As a survivor of sexual abuse, I have had huge trunks of emotional damage with me every step of the trip.  It made me distrustful, skeptical, hard.  I used so much energy hauling those bags that I didn't have time for myself.  I used so much energy on my emotional baggage that I didn't give myself fully to my relationships.  I've been so weighed down that I haven't lived--not really.  Not until now.

I am no longer weighed down with that emotional baggage.  I still have it with me--because my baggage has made me who I am today.  However, I no longer struggle with it--instead, I've sent a few bags on ahead and have learned to be an efficient packer.  I carry the bag--as light as it is--with grace today, grateful for the chance to continue this journey--lighter physically and emotionally.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

New Year's Eve...

No--I'm not in a hurry for the end of the year; I saw the movie "New Year's Eve" yesterday.  And in it, Hilary Swank's character describes New Year's Eve as a time to reflect, to have hope, to take chances.  I liked the movie, but my question is this: why New Year's Eve?  Why not every day?

Why wait until December 31st?  I think we should reflect every day.  I think we should have hope every day.  I think we should take chances--within reason, of course--every day.

If I didn't feel this way, I don't know if I'd be a very good teacher.  A good teacher reflects all the time on the lessons, the students' performances, what worked and what didn't.  If I didn't feel this way I probably wouldn't have had the surgery, so you wouldn't be reading this right now!

So a short post today, telling you to pretend every day is New Year's Eve.  Every day, you should make--and follow through--with new resolutions.  Every day, you should reflect on your life, on your choices, on your desires.  Every day, you should take chances--especially if those chances lead you to your heart's desire!

Have a significant Sunday!

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Clif Bars and A New Total...

Yesterday was a long day at school--from 7:00am until 9:00pm because of basketball.  Unfortunately, our teams all lost, including the varsity boys who lost by ONE POINT at the BUZZER.  It was sad!

Because I don't eat junk food anymore, I had to eat a half of a Clif Bar for dinner.  For those of you unfamiliar with Clif Bars, they are protein bars that can be used either as meal replacement or as supplements.  One bar is 240 calories, which is a LOT (especially since they are NOT delicious) but also 10 grams of protein!  The ingredients include organic brown rice, organic rolled oats, etc.  The one I had last night was "chocolate almond fudge", and I wish I could tell you how good they are, but I'm not going to lie!  Not great, but a half bar is 5 grams of protein, which isn't bad at all.

I've lost two more pounds--taking my total to 66 lbs.  I really wanted to lose 70 by Christmas, but I don't know if it'll happen.  I DO know that my new Shakespeare t-shirt "Bard to the Bone" (with a skull & crossbones, except the skull is Shakespeare!) was too snug when I got it two weeks ago--and I was able to wear it to school on Friday!

I know that the number on the scale is steadily dropping, but all of this is still so unreal to me.  When I think about clothes that are huge on me now, it's almost inconceivable to me that I've lost this much weight.  But the hoodie I bought last winter is loose THIS winter (after being tight last year),so I guess I have tangible proof.  I HAVE lost the weight--and I'll continue to do so! 

Have a super Saturday, everyone...and in this giving season, give to someone in need! 

Friday, December 9, 2011

I'm Positive that I Don't Need Negativity...

Well, at least ONE person felt I was being harsh by "naming names" in yesterday's blog.  Let me see if I can redeem myself a little.

I have given up SO MUCH for this.  This surgery has changed my life FOREVER.  Imagine NEVER being able to eat chocolate cake again.  No more candy.  No more Krispy Kreme.  No more soda--at all.  (I really do miss my A&W root beer!) No more chicken wings and beer night. No more wine (for a year, anyway).  No more Christmas cookies.   Technically, I can eat whatever I want--if I want HORRIFIC (and I DO mean horrific--I know by experience) diarrhea.  Trust me, it's not worth it.  I can no longer "chug" a bottle of water, no matter HOW thirsty I am.  I gave up my fiance, who, as I've said, wasn't sure he could be attracted to a thinner me.  I have sacrificed a lot--and haven't regretted it except for the first two weeks when my pain was so bad.

But imagine making that change--going through life-changing surgery and all that means--only to have people tell you about all the times the SAME procedure has FAILED!  I have heard from at LEAST 30 people about "someone" who "gained all their weight back".  

I have a confession to make--as OPTIMISTIC as I am in this blog--and I really DO try to be the exact same way in life, I am TERRIFIED that I'll gain back the weight.  TERRIFIED.  I realized today that I keep the plaid shirts that I loved so much because I think I'm going to need them again.  It hurts SO much to admit that right now, but it's true.  

So maybe I was harsh in naming names, but I have reason to be, I think...I need ALL the encouragement I can get.  PLEASE stop making negative comments to me about gastric bypass, weight loss, or my progress or the lack thereof.  I'm vulnerable...and like Cher once sang, "Words are like weapons--they wound sometimes."

Have a fabulous Friday!

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Please Don't Say It!

Wednesday started off well enough.  I stopped at Sheetz to get a bottle of water and a salad with grilled chicken for lunch.  It isn't great, but it's fast and not terrible for "gas station" food.  Every month, Sheetz sends a email offering one free item.  This month's item is a candy bar--a Three Musketeers.  I picked it up today, not for myself because eating sugar doesn't agree with me at ALL, but because next week, we're doing Secret Santa at school, and I thought that I'd give it away.

During small talk with the cashier, I mentioned that I didn't eat candy, and she said she didn't either.  That's when I told her that I had had gastric bypass surgery in August.  She surprised me when she said she had it, too!  Now this woman is probably 5'5", about 2.5 inches taller than I.  She said at her heaviest, she weighed 325.  (More than I did, but that's ALL I'm going to say on that subject!)  She's now down to about 140 and looks WONDERFUL!  She said she had the surgery in 2005--a real success story. It was so encouraging to hear about her success.

It's great for me to meet people like that.  I was buoyed by her story until I spoke to my former sister-in-law tonight.  Kathleen is a dietitian who, in one part of her job, works with gastric bypass patients.  After we had talked about other things, she asked how I was, and I told her that I'm feeling great and that I've lost 62 lbs.  Instead of congratulating me, she proceeded to tell me how so many of the patients she sees "stretch" their pouches and "gain all their weight back".

The fact that she felt the need to tell me this PISSED ME OFF.  Okay, so she's probably concerned for me because she's seen some people fail.  But a) there's NO way people are putting on ALL the weight they lost, and b) it's not EVERY one who's ever had this surgery, and c) that's THEIR issue, not MINE.

I sent her an email and told her that I wish she'd refrain from saying such things because they are discouraging and hurtful.  We have a good enough relationship--I think--that she'll understand my position.  I hope she does, but even if she doesn't, I HAD to tell her to stop it.  I have had SO MANY people tell me about the FAILURES they've seen.  And it HURTS and ANGERS me.  I'm really not sure why people feel the need to dwell on the negative...human nature, I guess.  But it's like telling a cancer treatment patient about all the people who DIE from the frigging disease.  How is THAT helpful??? 

SO...if you know someone who's had this surgery and has put all of his or her weight back on, keep it to yourself.  PLEASE.  I don't want to hear it.  I only care about how *I* am doing at this point--I only care about MY weight loss and how *I* feel.  Maybe you think that's selfish--I call it self-preservation. Have a THOUGHTFUL Thursday, everyone!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Dashing!

Tuesday night, I went to the funeral of the mother of a student.  The woman was only 49 and died after a prolonged battle with cancer. 

The pastor didn't know the woman; this was painfully obvious by his stumbling and continual references to her by her full name, which she didn't use.  However, one question the pastor asked stuck with me.  He spoke about the "dash".  I'm sure you've seen and/or heard about the dash, but in case you haven't: When people die, on their tombstones is their birth year and death year.  Between those two dates is a dash.  You've seen it "1962 - 2011".  That "dash" is what life is all about.  When you die, you should have lived your life in the "dash".  

So...how are YOU spending YOUR dash?  For me, I know that I'm on the right track.  Are you?  Are you where you want to be?  What are your deepest dreams and desires?  Do you have a plan to attain them or are you content to have them be just that--dreams?  
Make a plan...and then make a MAD DASH to ensure it gets DONE!  Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Snake Charmer

Lately, I've gained followers in Russia, Japan, Taiwan and even Colombia!  I love it!  It does my heart good to know that someone is reading this--and the thought of people all over the world...WOW!  I hope that this blog helps--in some small way--with whatever it is you're going through.  Like I've said before, life is hard--for EVERYONE!

I guess it's because I'm a teacher, but I love explaining things with analogies and metaphors.  This is one of my favorites:

A girl was walking up a mountain in the freezing cold.  As she pulled her coat closer around her, she heard tiny cries.  She looked down, and at her feet was a snake.  "Please," said the snake, "please help me.  I'm freezing to death.  Please take pity on me and pick me up." (Yes, I know snakes don't talk, but it's a metaphor--go with it!)

The little girl looked down at the snake, and for a brief moment, she felt sorry for it.  "No," she told the snake.  "I'm sorry, but if I pick you up, you'll bite me."

"Please," implored the snake.  "I won't bite you; I promise.  I'm so very cold--I'm close to death.  I'm one of God's creatures, just like you.  Please?  I know you have a good heart.  Please, help me before it's too late."

The girl looked at the snake again, looked at the snow that was beginning to fall from the sky, and looked back at the snake.  It was right--it would freeze to death if she didn't save it.  She thought about how cruel it would be to just walk away from one of God's creatures, and she couldn't imagine being cruel, so she stooped down and picked up the snake.

"Th-thank you," the snake told her.  "Please...put me inside your coat so that I can get warm."

The girl did as the snake asked, pulled her coat closer and started up the hill again.  Suddenly, she felt an agonizing stabbing in her heart as the snake bit her.

The girl grabbed the snake and tossed it to the ground.  As she fell to the earth, the poison coursing through her body, she cried, "But...why?  Why did you bite me?  I gave you shelter.  I saved you, and you bit me?  Why?"

The snake hissed, "You knew what I was when you picked me up!" and slithered away.

We've all known snakes.  And maybe we've even handled a few when we didn't realize their poisonous nature.  We've all heard the promises...and many of us have survived the bite! But why...why on earth would we pick them up when we know better?  Why do we second-guess ourselves when our intuition tells us that we're in danger of being bitten?  I'm happy to report that I came close to picking up a snake this weekend but did not!  I recognized him and kept my distance.  Can you say the same?  Have a terrific Tuesday!(And thanks again for reading! Tell a friend!)

Monday, December 5, 2011

A First...and LAST Date!

I had a "date" Sunday.  He was a man I met online; we only exchanged a couple emails and he wanted to meet.  He seemed like a nice guy, and I liked his photo. We met in a VERY public place, but it didn't stop him from suggesting that we take it private.  Ugh.  What the heck is wrong with men that they think women are going to sleep with them on a first date? Does this happen to everyone?  Or is it because I'm fat that men think I'm going to put out out of gratitude?  Grateful for the slightest attention?

I'm no prude, but what happened to getting to know people first?  Is this what being thinner is going to get me?  No, thank you! I'll tell you, though--60 pounds ago, I might have fallen for his lines...(and trust me, he had 'em).  But yesterday, instead of worrying about whether or not he was going to like me, my concern was more whether I was going to like him!  That alone is SO much healthier!

Jason was the second man in about a month that I've said "no" to...both he and the other guy, Bill, came on SO strong.  Without arrogance, I can say that while I'm not perfect, I am a pretty good "catch".  Bill is 39, newly divorced, lives with his mother and stepfather and sells videogames for a living.  Jason allegedly trained for the Olympics in martial arts, allegedly worked as a mechanical engineer until he sold his house in Colorado and bought a boat, allegedly lives on said boat and allegedly sells junk at flea markets for a living. (I say "allegedly" because I didn't believe much of what he told me; my radar was pinging like I was in a mine field).  Neither one of these two guys is exactly what I'd call a "winner", and I think that I DESERVE a winner! I'm not about to "settle" for just any guy.

I don't have to sleep with a guy to get him to like me--if he can't see my value without seeing my bedroom, good riddance to him! I am emotionally healthy enough to know that it's better to be alone than with the wrong guy.  I have been with the wrong guy before--and it sucked.  The good news is that I really don't mind being alone--I have said before that I like my company, and I do.  It would be nice to have someone to do things with--but not at the price of my self-esteem.  I've worked too long and too hard to get it!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Change For the Better!!

I ended yesterday's post with the advice that if you have 100 or more pounds to lose that you should have this surgery.  And I really meant it...but I wanted to expand that to say that if you have ANYTHING about yourself that you want to change, change it.  Do whatever you can to change it!

I was listening to Lady Gaga's song "Born This Way" today on my way to Greenville.  I love Lady Gaga, although I wasn't always a fan.  Her costumes and theatricality originally put me off, but when I started listening to her--to her music and to her message, I "got" it.   She is a real advocate for self-love and self-esteem and wants people to love themselves for who they ARE.  And I agree--we should love ourselves for who we are.  However, if there are things you don't like about yourself, you should work to change them.  I used to delude myself--hell, I LIED to myself.  I was so good at it, I convinced myself that it was okay to be obese--that people should have liked me for myself, not my size.  And while that IS true, it was ridiculous of me to want OTHER people to like me for myself when I didn't.  I have hated being fat my entire life.  I hate it even now, although I can reconcile that hate with the fact that I've done something about it.

Tonight I pulled some clothing out of the closet that I never use. (My television is in front of the closet door, so I only use one half of it...)  I found a lovely silk blouse that I was never able to wear because it didn't fit.  (Remember, I hate returning things--I always kept them because I was too embarrassed to return them to the store and say "This didn't fit".)  Anyway, the blouse is a little loose now, but I'm planning on wearing it later today--silk should "flow" anyway. 

Saturday afternoon, I went to lunch at Logan's and had steak!  Beef is especially hard to digest, but I was able to eat half the steak without any problems.  In fact, after lunch, I came home, got the dog and took him for a walk around City Lake, which is about a half mile.  A half mile might not seem like much to you, but considering that I was using an electric "scooter" a year ago, it's phenomenal to me!  I hurt a bit afterward, but the fact is, I did it!

It's Sunday.  Thank your higher power, no matter who He or She might be.  I'm just glad to be living lighter these days--and glad for the chance to share my life with YOU!

Saturday, December 3, 2011

What is That SOUND?

Yesterday, I was walking to the printer in the high school hall when I heard an odd sound.  I looked behind me and didn't see its source.  I looked to either side.  Still had no idea where the sound was coming from.  I continued to walk, and the sound continued.  I stopped.  The noise stopped.  I started walking again, and the "swishing" sound recommenced.  I looked down--the sound, which I hadn't heard before today, was the sound of my pants rubbing against each other at the ankle.

Why hadn't I heard this sound before?  Because the fat in my thighs kept my ankles apart!  And my thighs rubbing together were silent!  After all, if you rub two pillows together, do they make any noise?

I can laugh about it today, but the truth is, it's rather sad.  Sad that I spent a HUGE portion of my life being HUGE.  Still, I've finally done something about it--and it feels great.  I don't think one day has gone by in the last two or three weeks where I haven't received at least one compliment from someone.  I know I walk better, have more energy and definitely feel better about myself.  Don't get me wrong--like I said earlier this week, I love who I am, but I didn't love what I looked like.  I'm falling in love with her these days, too!

Please...if you have 100 or more pounds to lose, don't hesitate.  Don't wait.  Don't let another day of happiness slip by you.  Make an appointment.  If you're in my area, I'd recommend MY doctor, but the internet is filled with great information about great doctors all over the world.  Obesityhelp.com is an awesome website as well.  If you'd like to experience some of the joy--yes, joy--that I have, don't wait another day.  A new and exciting life can start for you today!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Anticipation...

It's Friday! Yay!  I hope you have something "fun" planned for the weekend, because life needs a little fun!

I had a visit Thursday afternoon from a former student, Andrew, whom I've not seen in about 3 years.  He looked great, and it was wonderful visiting with him.  He said that I look great, and I have to admit, it was really GOOD to hear! I love to see my former students; it's so encouraging to see them grow and change and succeed! 

I have just two weeks of school before my Christmas break--which begins on the 16th.  I can't wait, because it means going home to see my mom and friends in New York.  I'm really looking forward to this trip--first of all, I miss my mom, but it'll be great to see friends I haven't seen since before my surgery!

Not much else to say, my dear readers, other than remember that life is hard for everyone--so be kind! And have a FABULOUS Friday!!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Success!

How do you define success?  Are you successful?  Is "success" a word that makes you cringe? Or smile?

I think that success is a word that has multiple definitions for multiple people.  Dictionary.com defines success as: noun 1. the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors.  2. the attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like.  

Let's look at the second definition before we look at the first.  "The attainment of wealth, position, honors, or the like."  Wealth.  Wow.  As a teacher, I'll never be wealthy, not in the traditional sense of the word, but how do you measure wealth? If it's measured by the amount of money in a bank account, then, no, I'm not wealthy, nor will I ever be.  But what if you measure it by the number of friends you have? Or by the number of people you have helped in this lifetime?  Or by the number of people who admire you, who love you?  Or by that satisfied feeling you have at the end of the day/week/month/year for a job well done?  If you're talking about wealth in those ways, I'm one of the richest women on the planet!

I ran into one of my colleagues in the middle school Tuesday, who complimented me on my weight loss.  She asked how I was feeling, and I told her the truth.  I feel great.  Some days, my knees bother me, but they will bother me, no matter how much weight I lose, because I have no cartilage in the left knee, and the right knee is badly worn as well.  But overall, I feel great.  I still haven't vomited once--and most people do with this surgery.  I can eat almost anything--not a great fan of pizza still, but I can manage to eat a slice without getting sick.  I'm not hungry, don't feel deprived and don't "miss" the way I used to eat.  She said to me, "Well, you look great.  You're a real success story."

And according to that first definition, "the favorable or prosperous termination of attempts or endeavors", I am a success story, but I'm not sure I feel like one.  Not yet, anyway.  Yes, I've lost more than 60 pounds; yes, I've had to give clothing away; yes, I'm feeling good.  But my inner self is still doubtful.  And to be honest, I hate it!

I've taught for 19 years, so I know I'm good at that.  I know I'm a good person and have a good heart.  I know these things, but I remember when I first started teaching, I felt like a fraud!  A phony!  I kept wondering to myself, "When will they find out I really don't know what I'm doing?"  Of course, I knew what I was doing--I received great training at a State University of New York college, but I didn't believe in myself!  This surgery has been successful.  I've lost more weight since August than I have ever in my life with other methods.  I haven't been sick; I haven't had any complications; I eat much healthier now than I ever have.  I am a success story!

And I need to remind myself of that.  As you probably need to remind yourself.  There are probably many ways in which you are successful.  Perhaps you're the first person in your family to go to college.  Perhaps you are the only one of your high school friends still married to your high school sweetheart.  Maybe you've raised good, loving, giving children.  Maybe you are a warm and giving person who thinks of others long before you think of yourself. Success is personal.  So figure out your definition and know that you are much more successful than you've given yourself credit for being.  And then add the word "successful" to your list.  (If you don't know what list I'm talking about, go back to the post "Sense of Self).

Have a thoughtful Thursday! 
PS: I have heard that some people may be having trouble posting comments to this blog.  If you're having problems, PLEASE let me know.  Email me at Rhonda0918@aol.com   Thanks! 

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Love and Basketball...

No, not the movie.  I've never even seen that movie.  Hard to believe, huh?  There's actually a movie I haven't seen?  Actually, there are many movies I haven't seen, but I digress...

Tuesday night,  I came home from school, let Jack out and changed to go to the basketball games.  We were playing Tarboro High for the first time--we weren't in a league in previous years. Our JV team won by two points with less than a minute to play.  The girls, who have suffered some illness and injury, lost although they played well.  The Varsity boys kicked butt, winning by 50 points, 97-47!  I made the mistake of not eating before I went to the games--and they didn't have any "real food" other than chili dogs, bad popcorn and candy.  I tried the chili dog because I needed protein, but one tiny bite and I knew better than to eat that. I spat it into a tissue. Yuck!  

So I ate late.  And now I'm feeling queasy.  Ugh...not a pleasant sensation.  I am not going to do that again. 

Now for the love part.  Little girls love me.  I'm not sure why, but little girls have always loved me.  Maybe it's my "girlie-girl ways"--my love of nail polish and earrings and other girlie things.  Maybe it's that they can sense that they are safe with me or that I'm just a little girl at heart, but no matter who the little girl, little girls love me.  Tuesday night at the game, I met a little darling named "Imagine".  Magical name and a truly lovely girl.  She is the sister of a former student, but we had never met before tonight.  She was immediately drawn to me, and we hung out for the entire game!  She played "Angry Birds" on my iPhone and told me that we were "BFFs".  Then she added "EAD".  Knowing that BFF stands for "Best Friends Forever", I asked, "What's EAD? Ever and A Day?" And she said, "Nope. Even After Death".  How cute is THAT?  A little morbid maybe, but adorable!

When little girls connect with me, it makes me both happy and bitterly sad.  It makes me wish I had had children. I really resent that my ex-husband didn't want kids. It makes me miss James' granddaughter, Shannon.  It makes me wish I had a child I could love because I have so much love in my heart.  Sigh.  I guess I'll share that love with my students, with myself and with you, my readers...lucky for us all, my heart is HUGE!

Have a wonderful Wednesday!!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Checking Your Homework...

So...did you do it?  Did you do your homework assignment?  I ask because I care. It was in total seriousness that I gave you the assignment--how did it go?  I sat with my afternoon class of seniors and asked them to write down five positive things about themselves.  The majority of the class sat there staring at me.  Here they were--a class of 27 bright, beautiful teens, and they were paralyzed by the request.  

Did you struggle?  Did you have trouble coming up with many?  With any?  I warned you that you'd feel silly and embarrassed.  I found students trying to "cheat" off each others' papers.  They were truly stuck.  And you, my dear reader, you didn't have the luxury of looking onto someone else's list, so did you manage to come up with your own?

Yesterday, I went to speak to a class of potential teachers at Wesleyan College.  There was a "seasoned" teacher there who really needed to read this blog.  She told the kids how much she hated her first teaching jobs--how they made her vomit. Literally vomit! She complained of migraines, vomiting, rashes, etc. I was horrified to listen to this woman--we were there to encourage these kids, and she was telling them horror stories.  She told how she left teaching and went into banking, but hated that.  When she ran into a former administrator, he offered her a job.  She accepted it, only to have the bank offer her nearly double the salary they were paying her.  She told the students that she was sorry that they hadn't made the offer the day before, when she had not yet signed the contract with the school.  This is NOT a positive woman, and I'm willing to bet, not a great teacher!

I have to wonder what words would be on HER list.  And yours?  What words are on your list?  Have you read them out loud today?  You need to repeat the process.  Today, tomorrow, the next day.  It will help you begin to believe it.  

And believing in yourself is the first step.  You will believe it and then start showing that side of you to the world.  In this case, believing is seeing!

Monday, November 28, 2011

Sense of Self...

Who identifies your sense of self?  I know--you're saying, "huh?"  If I asked you to describe yourself, could you do so?  Would the words be positive?  Would they be YOURS?  I think that sometimes our sense of self is dictated to us by people in our lives rather than by ourselves.

Many years ago, I read the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus by John Gray.  In this book, (which I highly recommend, by the way) Dr. Gray describes men as being work focused while women are relationship focused.  In other words, a man's self-esteem is based on his success at work while a woman's self-esteem depends on her success in relationships.  I think that while this is completely accurate, it also hurts women because they then become dependent on the opinions of those around them.  

We all want to be liked--hell, we all want to be loved.  But how can we expect other people to like us or love us when we don't like and love ourselves?  Think about it.  When we love ourselves, we have a commodity--a product, if you will--that we want to share with others.  Would you buy a car from someone who couldn't convince you of the great qualities of that car?  How successful would salespeople be if they didn't believe in their products?
  
You have to love yourself--and that begins with knowing yourself.  I'm not perfect--no one is.  But I do have some great qualities--I'm a great writer.  I am a good friend.  I have a giving heart that will keep me poor financially but that makes me a wonderful person.  I'm smart.  I have beautiful eyes.  And I'm bright enough not to continue to bore you with this list!  Still, I can create that list--can you?  A homework assignment for you: create a list of all of your positive qualities.  Seriously.  Do it.  Get out a pen and a piece of paper and write your list.  

A word of warning: you will feel a little silly doing this.  You will.  And maybe embarrassed.  And that's okay.  Do it anyway.  Do NOT write a list of negative qualities you have--we have enough people in our lives doing that already!  Create this list and read it.  I mean read it.  Really read it.  Read it aloud.  Our brain processes things differently when we read aloud, so read it aloud.  And read it again tomorrow.  And the next day.  And every day until you can do so without feeling silly.  Without being embarrassed.  And when you know that it's true.

And remember this above all.  Life is hard for everyone.  People are struggling to make sense of the highs and lows of life, and when they do, they make mistakes, mistakes that often hurt us.  Look at the intent behind it when someone hurts you.  If they are intentionally cruel, cut those people out of your life.  If they aren't intentionally cruel, forgive them.  And then add "forgiving" to your list!

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hitting Bottom

I'm sure you've heard that an addict has to "hit bottom" before he or she is ready to seek out help.  But when is enough enough?  And why is one person's "bottom" different than another's?  Last night, I stopped at Walmart,where I saw a man who had to have weighed 600 pounds or more.  He was in a wheelchair--I'm sure he couldn't walk on his own--and he was truly as wide as the aisle at the cash register.

I wondered what happened to this man to make him self-destruct in this manner.  I also wondered what it was that stopped me where I stopped rather than continuing to that size or larger.

I can promise you that the man in the wheelchair would have preferred to have been ambulatory.  I'm sure that he would rather be independent and able to take care of himself.  Instead, he was in the chair, covered with a blanket--I'm sure he couldn't find a jacket to fit him.  I don't know what he was wearing as I didn't want to stare, but I will tell you that my heart went out to him.  I wanted to stop and tell him that there are options.  That this surgery is my personal miracle and that it could be his, too.  I wanted to tell him that life can be better, that it takes some work but that it's so very worth it.  I wanted to share that with him, but I didn't know how.  I didn't want to embarrass him.  I didn't want him to feel any more humiliated than he probably already does dependent on someone to push his wheelchair, to get his items from the top shelf, to help him in and out of the chair and into the car and from the car into the house.

But maybe somehow he'll see this.  Maybe someone will read it and recommend it to him.  Perhaps a friend of a friend of a friend will read it...and maybe, just maybe my experience can help save his life. Please, my dear readers, if you know someone who is hurting, who needs this surgery, refer him or her to the blog.  Don't push--he or she needs to reach his or her personal "bottom", but maybe hearing my story will help!