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Thursday, December 1, 2011


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. 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! 
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