Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Battling my demon

Life is a journey filled with lessons and trials; we never "arrive" at our destination.  We are meant to grow, stumble, grow some more, stumble some more...... It doesn't matter what our goals are.  For me, the biggest challenge I have had throughout the course of my life is my weight.  That is my #1 demon.  

Recently, a high school/college friend commented on Facebook I was going to be nothing but bones.  What she can't see is my body fat.  Truly, weight and fitness are one's personal issues.   Bottom line:  I"m not happy with what I see in the mirror.   My entire life I have been made to think I was not good enough, not thin enough to fit someone else's idea of what I should look like--family, school mates, ex-, society.  My mind has battled all those put-downs.  Don't tell me words don't hurt; they do.  Even though my rational mind tells me, "It's none of their damn, fricking business," it has impacted everything about my life.  

When I look back at school pictures, there was a dramatic change between first and second grade.  I don't know what caused it, but it's there.  Fast forward to 6th grade when my parents put me in private school.  A vivid memory I have of that time is being bullied--yes, bullying has been around since the beginning of time, I'm sure.  Some of the boys gave me the nickname "Butterball," as in Butterball turkey, thought to be the biggest.  When I would recount this story to my students decades later, they listened with rapt attention; their teacher could relate to their being bullied.

In my senior year of high school,  I remember walking all around Forest Hills.  I had a regiment where I would eat dinner between 4 and 4:30 and walk.  I lost quite a bit of weight by doing so.  Fast forward to having my son.  I knew I needed to get the weight off, so my husband agreed to help me do Weight Watchers.  I excitedly brought a lot of diet food home, and then he announced, "I'm not eating diet food!"  I had to cook two meals, one for him and one for me, so fried food it was:  fried chicken, fried round steak and gravy.  It was horrible.  There was no support at all from his end; in fact, there was the opposite.

The stress of teaching and some work situations in particular would set me off.  I'm an emotional eater and stress eater.  I've never had an eating disorder, but I would often run for the snack machine at work,  I can remember occasions where I would get 3 or 4 bags of chips and eat them within minutes.  It got to the point where I could not carry cash to work.  It was not better at home with my son.  I bought him the snack size box of chips for his lunches or snacks, and you guessed it; I ate more of them than he did.  There were times when he went to them and asked what happened to them.  I know my triggers and just can't have unhealthy food in the house.  A few months ago I craved chips, so on my way home I stopped at the Dollar Tree.  Their bags are relatively small, so how much damage could I do?  Well, that bag ended up being my dinner.  While it didn't put weight on me, the next day or two I felt awful--sluggish and "yucky."

Fast forward to my current situation.  I have lived alone for two years now, and there is no excuse for me NOT to get healthy.  The worst food I have in the house is almond butter. (I can't keep peanut butter because I would eat spoonfuls right out of the jar.)  I literally have to leave the house and go seek any "bad" food.  Now, that does not mean I won't indulge when I want.  It just means I am more deliberate about my choices.  I will grab a burger and fries about once a month with a friend.  I will have off days.  That's ok because this is a journey; my goal is to eat healthy about 80-90% of the time.  Oh, and abs and biceps---I know I have them somewhere, and I'm on a journey to find them.

 Now that I am retiring this summer, I have made it a conscious decision to focus on ME.  I no longer have the stress of the job.  My part-time tutoring/mentoring work is keeping me as busy as I want, and my pet nanny job is gearing up as the humans prepare to make their annual trek to Cozumel.  That is looking busier into the fall as the mom has a work trip to Dubai planned, her normal travel for business,  and perhaps other countries with the hubby.   I am busy between those part-time jobs and visiting/doing for my parents.  I am getting my mind in a healthy place, and I am keeping it busy.  Fitness truly does begin in the mind.  I have told someone that her mind truly has to be in the right place.  Mine has been off and on for years; right now, it's focused.  I workout almost every single day, sometimes twice a day (when I feel extra-motivated).  My food is on point.  I am keeping stress to the minimum, and I am dealing with this demon head-on.

(Ha!  If you made it this far, I know it's due to the title.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Dad's Kindness

My dad is one of a kind...and a true saint on earth.    When I am with him, he makes me want to be a better person.  Today we started round 2 of his Keytruda immunotherapy treatments.  The longest part is waiting to see the oncologist or nursing assistant and waiting on the drug to be prepared; the infusion itself is 30 minutes.  Every step of the way, when he leaves the nurses, he thanks them.  We normally see Amy to do his vitals and put the needle in.  Dad cuts jokes with her every time....and I noticed today he thanked her for what she does for him.  Then, we now have to go to the hospital plaza where they have moved the cancer infusion/chemo because Keyserling is going to be undergoing renovations to expand it.  The rest of his treatments will involve giving his blood/getting vitals/seeing the doctor at Keyserling and then driving to the hospital complex.

Today, as he left the hospital, he thanked the nurse who had hooked up the bag and later removed the needle.  She didn't do that much, but that's how Dad is; he appreciates everything.

Last night on the phone I told him how for the first time in my life--and the first time in the 15 years I have lived here--my neighbor offered to cut my weeds at the street when he was mowing his yard yesterday.  Let me say that due to the oak trees, weeds at the street are about all that are growing, so that's all that needed mowing.  I was blown away.  Dad's response? 

          "That's what the world needs--more people being nice to each other."

That is so Dad.  He has never known a stranger.  When he retired in December of '93, he toyed with the idea of being a Walmart greeter, but Mother didn't want him to.  In fact, when they used to go to Walmart when he was driving, she admitted to being jealous when he would talk to people.  "Who was that???"  she demanded to know.  Sometimes he told her the name; other times he didn't know the name.  He.would.strike.a.conversation.with.anyone.  He has never cared the person's color, religion, or anything else we use to JUDGE people.

It would not surprise me to get to heaven one day and find that Dad is a greeter.  

Monday, June 12, 2017

Paw Prints on Our Hearts

Decoy came home this weekend.  He was one of the pets I pet sit for.  I think I've been his family's sitter for almost 7 years; I lose track of time.  His dad is an EMT, and his mom travels the globe as an educational consultant.  When they are both away, I am their pets' sitter.  I think when I began there was Lady, a black lab; Jake, a chocolate who passed away last June; Decoy, this lab; and Emma, a man-loving cat.  None are left now except Charlie, the golden doodle seen in some of these pictures.

Decoy battled a tumor for the last 14 months or so, and he was on and off medication.  Last Tuesday night, the night AFTER I was last with him, was brutal; his parents knew the time had come.  I remember when his parents got him over 12 years ago.  Here he was as a pup:

Decoy was trained to be a duck hunting dog, and he truly loved to do that in his heyday.  Here are some more pictures of him with Lady and Madison, his sisters, and then Emma, his feline sister:

And, here he was when I pet-sat for him:

And treat time may be the way I best remember him:

Run free, Decoy, with Lady and Madison.  Say hello to all my kitties for me!  Nanny G loved you!

Monday, June 5, 2017

Sparkles is home.

When I love, I love deeply, and my cats are no exception.  This never gets easier, and some people may ask why I do it then.  Why do I have pets?  I would save them all if I could.  I believe every animal should have the chance at a good life where he or she is loved and pampered. One day I will blog about what started my love for cats, but it's still too painful after all these years.  

This is my second urn in almost 7 months.  Sparkles is on the right; Lovie is on the left.  She really loved him in the few short months they were together before he passed.

 And here she is in happy times with her siblings:

In spite of what a minister once said, I firmly believe I will see all my pets in heaven one day.  God is God.  Nothing is too hard for him; why would He give these animals to us on earth to love and care for, only to take them away from us forever?  That makes no sense to me.  I will see Sparkles, along with Prissy Mae, Fluffy Marie, Fluffer Andrew, Royena, Baby, Mollianne, Snowy, Thumper, and Lovie.  I have had 15 cats in 42 years, and I remember every name and every circumstance surrounding their passings.  They have left huge paw prints on my heart that remain almost 27 years after the first one passed away.  

Thursday, June 1, 2017

God Restores

God brings some people into our lives for a season; He brought this woman into my life for several reasons, but I will share just one here publicly.  She is my most immediate former principal, and even though I retired, I still cried yesterday when we as a faculty told her goodbye as well as on my way home.....and I cry now as I type this.   I cried because I could have returned to visit her, but she is leaving the area.  As I told her yesterday, words can not express what she has meant to me.    In the last three years, she brought me out of the desert  and restored everything in my teaching life that had been ripped away:  my dignity, my worth, my value, my autonomy....literally everything.

In my 29 years, I have worked for 8 principals.  As my bff would say, "Most were not worth two dead flies."  In fact, only two of the 8 were what principals should be:  Roger Hudson (an interim at Ruffin High) and Nicole Thomas Holloman.  When Ms. Holloman came to my school, she had to straighten out one helluva mess....That is the best, most succinct way to express it.  AND, this is telling; the then-new Superintendent changed the leadership of my school before any other.  There is a MAJOR problem when year after year, the average number of teachers who leave a 6-8 school is 18 or so.  Ms. Holloman  had to rebuild the culture in the school from one that was oppressive, disheartening, and tyrannical, ( and I am being kind).   She led by giving teachers autonomy (as opposed to micromanaging every move out of distrust) and treating them with the respect they deserve to make decisions for what they knew to be best.  A dark cloud lifted when God put her there.  That's the best way to sum it up.  And.....make no mistake......God put her there.  I know that beyond any doubt.

I will always be grateful for what she has done for me in these last three years.  May God give her grace, wisdom, and protection in her coming assignment.