Turning Into A Curmudgeon.

 

I see more and more Medicare/AARP kinds of junk mail now.   Vitamins and supplements.  Pharmaceuticals.  Reverse mortgages.  Sensibly-clad models in their 60’s smile vacantly from a glossy ad for a new ‘independent living’ facility.  Our old TV idols and favorite performers are hawking long term care insurance.  The boomers are retiring and we’re aging not-so-gracefully.  
Like kicking and screaming, I mean. What the heck?! 
 
Is every generation surprised when they start hitting 50 (or 60 or whatever) and they’re not ready? Does time sneak up on everyone and blindside us all?  I feel like I was walloped.   (Now listen to Wallop the Cat by the Wicked Tinkers.  Music begins around 1:15.  Did I tell you I love these guys?  Drums, pipes and kilts.  What’s not to love?)
Anyway. 
I mean, yeah, some folks seem like they were born old already…my teachers in elementary school seemed pretty ancient. But it seems like POW! I went from being a kid to being a young parent to being one of the ‘elders.’ Weird. And too soon. Way, way too soon.
 
I think the boomer generation – my generation – is steadily moving up toward the place where the ones before us are all gone save for a lone few, and it is kinda scary.  It means mortality, and not all of us are ready, if you know what I mean.
 
But it is inevitable.  Our turn is coming.  I understand, even if I’m not thrilled about it.
 
I just don’t want to see it in my mailbox, yknow?
.
image credit: Ethan Prater

Aloha.

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I wanted to love you, Hawai’i, I really did.  I held on for a long time, hoping things would get better.  I tried.

It just didn’t work out between us.

I’ve admired you from afar, and for many years I’d heard so many nice things about you.  Friends said we were destined for the long term.  You were beautiful, wild and free.  I hoped one day to meet you.

So when the chance finally came for us to spend time together, the anticipation bubbled up in me.  And you didn’t disappoint.  No, you were as handsome and lovely as they all said you were, lush and vibrant and serene all at once.  I marveled.

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You fed my stomach and you fed my soul.

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We explored each other warily for the first days, you and I.  At times breezy, you turned sultry as the evenings settled.

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You offered a lot of fun, but I also saw your somber side at Pearl Harbor.

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The next day, you showed me a parrot fish munching coral at Hanauma Bay and a wonderful luau and dinner show later.

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You taught me the story behind the “shaka.”  Our time together was going smoothly, and you and I got along just fine, Hawai’i.

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But things turned sour at Haleiwa, on our trip up to the North Shore, right after the butter garlic shrimp at Macky’s.

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I mean, really.  I was just going for a ride, but that tour bus guide had other plans. You really hurt me that day, but I stayed with you.

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That sprained ankle slowed me down.

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The wheelchair helped, but I have to admit it put a crimp in our relationship, which had started off so well.  Now I couldn’t be as freewheeling and spontaneous as you wanted me to be.

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Now I had to temper my enthusiasm with a painful slice of reality – an Ace bandage and a cane.

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Still, we dined happily with dear friends who were glad to meet you, too, and the bag of ice was a small price to pay.  (The cab fare was another matter entirely.)

I gamely went along with the original plan, getting to know you better.  We went to Hilo, where you showed me your active volcano and the beauty of its stark landscape.  20160505_184700[1]

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It was almost romantic, dining on ahi poke, illuminated by your evening glow. There was still so much to learn about you.

I sensed the best was yet to come.

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In the morning we met an old friend for the first time.  We swam with her in the warm, thermal waters near Pahoa.  We saw myriad little fish swarm near the boat launch and the young boy practicing surfing near the breakwater.

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We met some new, friendly faces and petted some dogs on boogie boards; we also met a not-so-friendly sea urchin that left its marks.

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We even saw where Pele stopped to rest last year, leaned up against a fence at the city dump.  I should have known that the churning in our guts was a foreboding.

We drove around the coastline, determined to see as much as we could.

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We saw huge boulders churning in the waves, testimony to the sea’s incredible strength, and turtles riding the surge.

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Enormous palms and banyans provided shade while showy bougainvillea and trumpet vines climbed their trunks.

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It was lush and warm, and the sea breeze was just right.

Something ugly was brewing in that perfumed air, though.  Later on, I knew it: instead of butterflies, I felt an angry growl in my stomach.  What should have been a relaxing time of fun and laughter became exhausting.  My enthusiasm, like my energy, was draining away fast.  Maybe I should have known when the flight was cancelled, but the staff was helpful and eventually got us where we needed to be.  I still held out hope for us.

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Maui, the final destination, was supposed to be the best of all.

Only it wasn’t.  And after an hour and a half drive, inching our way over 20 miles to the resort, making arrangements to stay closer to the elevator in deference to my still-swollen ankle, and finally checking in, all we could do was collapse on the bed and sleep.

Hawai’i, your charm was fading fast.

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It rained from the sky straight into my heart, and even my best attempts at salvaging the days we had left were mostly fruitless.  We finally saw one of your fabled sunsets, but only briefly from under the heavy rain cloud, and only from our room, while we bitterly laughed at the irony.

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After two more nights of Gatorade, bananas and crackers, I no longer wanted to be with you.  I was no longer under your spell; I was tired, hurt, and deeply disappointed in you.  You weren’t what I had hoped for, and you weren’t what I was led to believe.

You were beautiful from a distance, but when I was with you, you smothered me, and I realized I couldn’t live that life.  It was time to go.

To be honest, these may have been the worst days of my life, made more so because they were supposed to be some of the best.  You mocked my plans.  You flouted my desire to do it all, and you made me unable to do anything.  Even the sun turned its back at the end.  So I don’t feel bad for ending it at all.  I’m not a quitter, but I know when I’m wasting my time.

So, goodbye, Hawai’i.  I’m breaking up with you.

Aloha.  I never want to see you again.  When I speak of you, it will be in past tense, because we don’t have a future together.  Your name will become synonymous with the worst of times, not the best of times.  When I hear it, it will bring to mind a broken ankle

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(it wasn’t a sprain, after all), food poisoning, and a sea urchin sting.  It will remind me of rain, dorky tour guides, and rude people.

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I may wistfully recall our time at Duke’s and Morimoto’s, but I am more likely to wince at the thought of that ahi poke.

And I couldn’t even find a decent cup of coffee.

Ugly and Unkind.

 

Brutal honesty here.

So tonight I realized that I have an ugly and unkind heart. Well, being charitable, maybe it’s more of an ugly and unkind streak in an otherwise earnest and hopeful heart. At least, I’d like to think so.

How did I learn this awful truth?

I saw a social media post from an individual who was reaching out humbly for some support, not knowing where else to turn.  The person was one whom I knew in passing and observation.  Not personally…because for one reason or another –  I can’t really recall – I never cared for that person, so I began to regard them with disdain.

It started with dismissal and light mockery in my head and a nickname I bestowed (I thought it was witty) when talking to my friend.  I think I just found the person an odd bird at first, and then pretty soon, our limited interaction served only to confirm my self-fulfilling thoughts.  At that point, anything that was said or done just added weight to my opinion.  Without any understanding, armed only with my assumptions, I was pretty smug.  And so it was easy to write this individual off or use them as a punchline.  I got a lot of mileage out of it.

So then tonight happened.

And it was then I realized that this was a real person with a story, and I was a petty, self-righteous hypocrite. I wouldn’t be able to live up to my own standards, and yet I felt comfortable judging someone for — what, exactly?  Being different.  But aren’t we all?  I let my initial impression morph into something ugly and unkind, and I went along for the ride.  In my imagination, I’d already written some backstory that fit in with what I thought I already knew, which was mostly my creation.  I never realized how far I let it go until now.

I’m sure it took a lot to ask for help.  Most of us have too much pride for that, don’t we?  And it’s easy to judge a person who offers up too much information, laying themselves bare and open like that.  Too needy.  Attention whore. But I still believe that it took courage for them to ask, knowing they could easily be humiliated.

It put a lump in my throat, quite actually.

I’ve been judged and I’ve been misjudged. I’ve been mocked and dismissed and treated ‘less than.’ And I didn’t like it, and I didn’t deserve it, and yet here I am puking it out of my own mouth. Shame on me.

Wretched.

My mother’s words are in my head:  You are not perfect, either.

She’s right, of course.

And I’m sorry.  I pledge to start fresh and extend a hand to this person in some way. The post has received a lot of positive response from others, and I am glad to see that.  I am ashamed that mine is not among them.  I have to work on my own heart and mind before I can reach out to that person, but I will, you can be certain of that. Because I just saw myself in a mirror and I don’t like what I saw.

In closing, I leave you with this:

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.
Dalai Lama

 

 

 

image credit AhmadHammoud

Sanker.

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I try very hard to be thankful in my life, even for the bad things. (That’s tough, but I believe you need to be grateful at both ends of the spectrum and all in between.) And I try to recognize and express my appreciation and gratitude regularly and honestly.

Tonight I was thinking about that, and I wanted to share it with you.

I like to be appreciated. I think we all do. I think it’s important to acknowledge and appreciate others. So I try to return favors and give thanks for all the thoughtful little things in my day. Mr. Stuck is the author of a great many of them, so this one’s for him:

thank you for carrying the laundry basket
thank you for opening jars (and bottles and boxes and envelopes and cans and buckets) when my hands hurt
thank you for turning off my Kindle and tucking me in at night when I fall asleep reading
thank you for the flowers you bring home for no reason at all
thank you for remembering the tasks I forget
thank you for doing the vacuuming and sweeping and mopping 
thank you for waking up in the middle of the night to help me with my excruciating leg cramps
thank you for eating whatever I cook without complaint and for trying new things
thank you for telling me you love me every single day
thank you for being able to joke me out of a bad mood
thank you for being my interpreter when I’m not hearing well
thank you for being my cheerleader

thank you for taking the steps to be healthier and happier
thank you for helping me be happier and healthier, too

The more I express gratitude, the happier I am, and the happier I am, the more I express gratitude. My marriage is all the better for it.

Both of us make a habit of saying thank you, not just assuming the other person knows.  This is crucial.

I thank him for things he does and things he does not do. I thank him for decisions he’s made and goals he sets. I thank him for caring about me, caring about himself, and caring about us. I thank him for being a good father. I thank him for thinking of me and bringing home asparagus. I thank him for putting ice melt on the steps. I thank him for making my day – and life – easier.

Yknow, we all have plenty we can complain about.  Despite the impression some people give, it’s not a competition.

I choose instead to say thank you, and that has made a difference.

 

 

Thanksgiving As Therapy.

 

A blogger friend’s recent post about traditions started me thinking about my own traditions with family and friends and how they’ve changed over the years.

As a child, and well into my young adulthood, I spent Thanksgiving at my parents’ house, my childhood home. The menu was classic and rarely varied: a big fat roasted turkey, stuffed full of sage and sausage dressing; potatoes and gravy; fruit salad; cranberry sauce; and some combination of vegetables, usually green beans, creamed onions, or cauliflower. Sometimes, Mother made sweet potatoes or squash. And there was usually a veggie tray and a divided dish with black olives (Mother being the only one who ate them after Grandma passed away) and pickles.

Of course, the meal was not complete without dessert — apple and pumpkin pies, for which my mother was renowned. Quite the feast! And that was for the early, big dinner – later on, at supper, it was time for turkey sandwiches and pie (for which we had been too full before). Oh my goodness!

I come from a big family, and I always looked forward to these holidays with my parents, because it meant that I would see most, if not all, of my siblings and their families. I relished the house full of loved ones, the Macy’s parade and football games on TV in the background, the chatter and laughter of my sisters, and the children underfoot and overhead in the upstairs bedrooms. The roasting turkey’s aroma, mingled with coffee, pumpkin, and pickles was a familiar and welcome bouquet.

When the bird was done and plattered, it joined the rest of the dishes on the table and we were called to “Wash up!” and “Come and eat!” Those of us with aprons on, who were already bustling about in the kitchen, made sure everyone had a spot to sit, and we’d round up the kids to sit at their own table.

We all sat and bowed our heads to say grace, giving thanks for the meal and the hands that prepared it, and asking blessings upon those at the table as well as those who couldn’t be there. I savored that moment of appreciation, thinking about how fortunate I was to be in that family, at that table, with the people I love, on that busy, but gratifying, day.

And although the meal was always impressive, and we all left the table stuffed and nap-ready, it wasn’t about the food.

It was never about the food.

Over the years, the family got bigger as my sisters married and had children, and eventually, I did the same. As the family got bigger, the Thanksgiving table got smaller, as my older sisters and I started our own Thanksgiving traditions or visited with in-laws. But even after I married and had children, my siblings and I still enjoyed celebrating at my mother’s table sometimes. Mother would do less of the cooking as we encouraged her to sit and rest. We’d make sure Dad had his cold beer so he could enjoy his football game. It was nice to feel like a kid again, but at the same time, to be a grownup.

 

Losing my parents and sister in 1999 dealt such a blow to my life; aside from the obvious, it also turned my whole notion of tradition on its head. I was unable to muster up any desire to celebrate the holidays; for several years, I was lost when it came to Thanksgiving. We were invited to join other family members for their festivities, but nothing really felt like it fit. Not to me. And it wasn’t a reflection of their generous and loving hospitality; it was just how torn I felt from the very fabric of my life. The old tradition was gone – obliterated – and I had nothing with which to replace it.

Eventually, we accepted the invitation of our very dear friends. Their Thanksgiving, while not what I was used to, was a warm and welcome gathering, with a menu that’s a little different each year. I worked my way through the grief by literally working my way through it – I would arrive early in the day, don an apron, and set to prepping vegetables or making pie or whatever task I was given. Many times I found myself in tears over the sink, but those tears were the catharsis I needed.

Thanksgiving with our close friends is the convention we’ve embraced for over a decade now, and although sometimes I yearn for the turkey dinners of the past, I am overwhelmingly grateful for what we have now. We are not guests; we are family, and this is our custom. To honor my parents, I make my mother’s sausage stuffing. Mr. Stuck and I share in the preparation of delightful and creative dishes and serve them proudly. The house is abuzz in activity and laughter and music, with family members, friends, and guests arriving throughout the day. Every year, there seems to be at least one new face to welcome to the table. This is our new old tradition.

And as we sit down to the table heavy with goodies, we carry on the practice of my friend’s late grandfather and take turns sharing what each of us is thankful for. There are many mentions of friends and family, those who have gone before us, and the bounty of the day’s meal. When my turn comes, I am nearly always choked up with emotion and gratitude. I am thankful for so much: the traditions of the past; the generosity of our friends, the hosts; the faces of the people crowded around the large table; the abundance of the meal itself; and the healing that it has meant to me.

But more than anything, I am grateful for what it all represents – the loving ritual; the anchor; that feeling of belonging and the carrying on of a tradition over generations. These are memories that we build together and that our children will look back on and build from.

 

It’s not about the food.

It was never about the food.

 

photo credit Hey Paul Studios

Lazybones.

I confess:

I’m lazy.

I’m quite comfortable as a lump on the couch. I’ve got yoga pants and a Yoda butt. I prefer escalators to stairs. I like parking close to the store. I’ll often holler from the other end of the house before getting up and walking over to talk to Mr. Stuck.

And I’d pretty much have to be in fear for my life to be caught running.

I’m sure my inertia was a huge factor in my weight gain, because I never had what you’d call an active lifestyle. I was never in sports in school, unless you count the year I was manager of the track team, where my physical exertion was limited to handing out equipment and collecting wet towels to be laundered. I wasn’t very coordinated. I was a bookish kid, not a sporty one – my brain got all the exercise. My only bad grade in school – a “C” – was in PE.

Making the change to a more active life has been slow, but I know it is worthwhile. I use the stairs at work almost exclusively now, and it has made a difference. I’m parking farther away from where I want to go, just so I can add a few steps to my day. I’m making myself move more, and I try not to sit for too long at a stretch, but it isn’t easy for a couch potato. A body at rest stays at rest, and all that.

Newton must have known a Lazybones like me.

I’ve always joked that exercise is a dirty word, but to be honest, I wish I’d used that kind of language more often. I wish I’d listened to Mom and gone outside to play more as a kid. I wish I’d tried out for softball. I wish I’d cultivated a different type of routine than I did – one where I was actually doing stuff. I would have been stronger and more physically fit than I was back then and am now. Trying to start being active is tough if you’ve never really done it before.

I’m a weakling. I have no stamina. I haven’t found an activity that I like well enough to do regularly or commit to. It’s a struggle every time between what I want to do, what I know I should do, and what I can do. I’m inspired by folks who run and swim and work out and sweat and ride bicycles and have strong, healthy bodies to show for it. I admire their determination and their drive, but I can never seem to translate that into my own life.

If I were rich, I’d have a personal trainer and maybe a chef, and I’d probably look great, thanks to them. They wouldn’t be mean like the Biggest Loser trainers, but they’d be firm, giving me goals as well as limits and making me stick to them. They’d discourage my whining and encourage my positive inner voice. They’d show me that anyone can make a change, even when change is hard. They’d have me watch inspiring movies like “Rudy” or “Rocky” or “Unbroken” to show me that my ability isn’t what matters, my heart is. A strong spirit can overcome, even when the flesh is weak.

They’d coach me to my personal best.

But I’m not rich, and I can’t afford a chef or a trainer. I only have myself in the mirror. I have to learn to be my own coach, cheerleader and motivator. I need to take charge of my own health and follow through with what I start. I need to remember the encouraging words that I’ve given to others and say them to myself – over and over and over.

You can do it.
Look how far you’ve come!
Just keep moving.
Don’t give up!

Baby steps – they’re all I’ve got, but if I take them, I’ll get there, and I’ll be way ahead of the old me sitting on the couch.

It’s never too late! 

Let’s forgive the past and change the present so we can shape the future.

 

photo credit JamieC2009

Small Victories.

Clarity, Moments of :
Everyone has them once in a while.  Even me.

So at last month’s WLS support group meeting, we were encouraged to share a non-scale victory (NSV) or something positive. I like this part of the meeting, because it helps people shift their focus from the numbers to the things that really matter. The number on the scale is just one of the many benefits we get from losing weight and getting healthy. When you can stop weighing yourself every day and deciding your worth based on how much you lost or didn’t lose, that’s a victory in itself.

Breathe. Relax, and don’t be so hard on yourself! Not all of us are going to run a 5K or join a Zumba class; some of us are just happy to throw away our elastic-waist slacks or walk through Costco without eating all the samples.

A win is a win — it doesn’t have to be big to count. You’re the judge – is it important to you? Did it put a smile on your face, bring tears of joy, or make you pump your fist in the air? Then it counts! Zipping up a pair of jeans that didn’t fit last month, going on a hike, going unrecognized when you run into someone who hasn’t seen you in a while, fitting in a restaurant booth or an airplane seat, or wearing a swimsuit for the first time in years are wonderful examples. Making it through a party with your willpower and determination intact is another. For me, crossing my legs at the knees instead of at the ankles was huge, and still is.

What makes you feel triumphant?  That’s what counts!

And really, I think NSVs are about perspective. Small victories are important in all parts of life: as a parent, in your work environment, and in relationships. It isn’t all about the finish line.

I love seeing familiar faces and meeting new ones at the meetings. It feels so good to be social after feeling somewhat isolated, insulated by fat. But it’s not just fat, is it? It’s anger. Resentment. Protection. Rejection. Denial. Self-loathing. Shame. Whatever. So often we hide ourselves away and stop interacting. We don’t go out much, we don’t want to be seen, and we feel embarrassed. We shrink even further into ourselves. Even when the ‘outside you’ forces a smile, the ‘inside you’ is miserable, and it’s easier to be miserable alone.

So as the fat melts away and reveals the true self, communication and social interaction become even more important. We need the encouragement and support. We’re not hiding anymore. We are learning to stand up for ourselves in a different way. We are learning to speak a new language — the language of hope, of positivity, of gratitude, of acceptance and love. Maybe we’re learning to say No or allowing ourselves to say Yes. We are learning to love our imperfect selves.

It’s tough — some of us have hated ourselves for a long time.

But in the end, it’s these little wins that will sustain us, by teaching us to appreciate what we have worked so hard for.

Look in the mirror and smile at the winner you see there.  That’s a start!

 

 

photo credit Richard Moross

The Sky at Night.

 

Honey, remember how we used to sit on the porch and watch the meteor showers? Come out with me!

I stand at the door, unwilling to venture out alone. I briefly flip on the light to make sure there’s nothing out there, but even so I hesitate. The tiniest bit of light stretches from the streetlamp on the other side of the house and the automatic lights in the yard. It is dark, but warm.

When he finally joins me, I let him lead me out on the deck. He leaves me there and goes back for chairs. The spring rockers are perfect – just lean back and look up.

My hand reaches out to touch his leg, a gentle (and probably annoying) reminder that doubles as a request to stop idly shaking it. We sit mostly in silence, peering at the starry blanket for the promised meteor display. Each year at this time, our planet wanders through this comet debris field and we ooh and ahh at the light show. It’s just dust and rocks, but it’s cool, like driving at night through a snow flurry.

This year, though, I almost missed it, as I sat in my normal spot in front of the screen and tuned out. Shame on me!

For years, we’ve taken chairs outside in mid-August to watch the sky after dark when we were lucky enough to not be thwarted by cloud cover. I still remember the arcs of static electricity between us and our old plastic deck chairs.

We hold hands and talk about stuff. Just stuff.

I watch my first meteor of the night streak across from right to left. In a few seconds, I spot a satellite making its way nearly perpendicular to the meteor’s path. I wonder if anyone really thinks about how many satellites are up there every day, all the time. I am fascinated by the brilliant minds of history who make these things possible. We speak of the miracle of satellites in space, and then our talk turns to our satellite television dish, which isn’t working right, and the technician who’s coming to fix it. Then more quiet. It seems wrong to break the silence.

One, two, three. I’m starting to get a chill from the light, but persistent, wind which has gotten stronger since we sat down. I ask what our goal is for the evening – we always decide the number of we want to see before bedtime. Tonight, it’s five.

Ooh — he sees one, but I miss it, because I’m looking the other way. Now he’s at four, and I have three. The wind pushes at me, and the hair on my arms rises.  I hear the rustle of the trees and the small complaint of the spring as I rock in my chair.  It’s a beautiful night.

There — I see a short, fat streak closer to the horizon than the others. He misses it, so we’re even. We watch for the next one, and soon we are rewarded. We would see more if we could stay up, but on a work night, morning comes early.

Again, I let him lead me, holding his hand as he threads his way past porch swing and dog dish, back inside to go to bed.

 

 

 photo credit snowpeak

 

Your Results Will Vary.

I remember when I began the process leading up to weight loss surgery. I read everything I could find about it, talked to people about it, and joined online groups so I could learn even more. I had plenty of ideas about how much better my life could be if I lost weight. I envisioned the clouds parting and the sun finally shining down on me.

I was apprehensive, though, and I had a lot of questions, because I was afraid and I wasn’t sure if I could make it through all the required hoops. I mean, besides all of the medical tests, I had to be on a supervised diet for six months and I needed to lose weight before surgery. Like a lot of folks who face that obstacle, I was discouraged and got cold feet. I thought, If I can lose that weight, then maybe I don’t need to do something as drastic as surgery, after all.

Yeah, no.

Then there was the liquid diet after surgery. How would I manage that? And how would I make (and stick to) an eating schedule? And how would I get all my water AND all my protein AND all my supplements? (There are only so many hours in a day, you know.) And that’s only the first couple of weeks! What will I do after that??

Those who know me <ahem, Mr. Stuck> know that I worry about things — mostly those things I can’t change. My mother used to warn about ‘borrowing trouble’ and I seem to do it a lot. I had myself in a complete lather with all the ‘what ifs’ I came up with in the months and weeks before surgery, not to mention afterward. I concocted all kinds of scenarios, some more believable than others, but I worried about them all.

What if my hair falls out? What am I going to do about saggy skin? What if the surgery doesn’t work? What if I’m left with strange digestive troubles? What if I don’t lose weight? What if I develop some weird side-effect that nobody’s ever heard of? What will I do at parties — restaurants — friends’ houses? How do I eat without drinking? What will I do without coffee? How soon will I be at my goal weight? What if I never get to my goal weight?

What if I fail?

And then there were the WLS support group stories. I listened to people who couldn’t eat without throwing up, those who could no longer handle certain foods, and those who had constant digestive issues. I heard people worry about how they would balance their own dietary needs against those of their families. I heard people worry about if they should ‘come out’ about their WLS, and if so, to whom. And I noticed something.

I noticed that everyone was worried about something. Everyone had questions, even if they never voiced them. And I noticed something else. For every question, there were as many answers as there were people. None of those answers were ‘wrong,’ and none were ‘right.’

The common theme was, Your results will vary.

Just like there is no such thing as a typical WLS patient, there is no such thing as a universal result. Each person’s success hinges on their personal health history; the time and effort they invest; follow up care; exercise; spiritual, emotional and mental factors; their support network; their commitment to a healthier life; and a host of other elements that can change every day.

So while I urge you to read and learn and talk to folks and ask questions throughout this process, I also encourage you to understand that there are a million things that will affect how this surgery changes you, and while some may be somewhat predictable, most are not. You may find, as I did, that the issues you have after surgery are not the same things you worried about beforehand. I will guarantee, though, that you will learn some things about yourself that you might not have realized before. That may not be easy, but it will be valuable.

Your perspective and your insight change with your physiology. You will reassess what is important — your blood pressure? Your goal weight? Your waist size? Your activity level? Your relationships? These things will all change, and so will their significance to you.

On the other hand, there are things that WLS doesn’t change. It doesn’t give you the ability to avoid consequences. It doesn’t make your food issues disappear. Let me say that again: It doesn’t make your food issues disappear. It doesn’t automatically make you a “skinny person” (whatever that means) for life. It isn’t a free pass to get away with something. It doesn’t erase the bad habits you have developed over your lifetime. It doesn’t give you a great personality, a better job, more friends, or instant happiness.

It gives you another chance – a fresh start. It gives you an opportunity to take stock of things and make adjustments. So use it. Just remember one thing:

Your results will vary.

Smilin Bo

 

 photo credit speedpropertybuyers.co.uk/ and Leo Hidalgo

Pretend You’re Camping.

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My sister Missy was an optimist – a cheerful, ‘look on the bright side’ kind of gal. She was the kind of person who could turn lemons into the best lemonade ever, and she had a way of looking at life as an adventure to be had, even in bad times. I always admired her for that; when I was down in the dumps for one reason or another, she could always lift me up and encourage me. She was our family’s cheerleader, the person who could make anything fun – or at least bearable.

Missy’s motto was Pretend you’re camping. She reasoned that when you’re camping, you make do. If you forget your pillow, you roll up your jacket and use that instead. If you forget utensils, you can cook with a stick and eat with your fingers. Missy applied this logic to her daily life; if things didn’t go right, there was always Plan B: deal with it, and move on. No need to waste time and energy crying over the ‘could have/would have/should have’ scenarios.

I really like that perspective. Life isn’t always fun, and things don’t always go the way we want them to. I’d venture to say that more often than not, life is throwing curve balls at us; our character shows in how we choose to respond. We can duck, or we can adjust our swing. We can focus on being disappointed, or we can focus on the challenge to improve.

Pretend you’re camping! has become our family’s catchphrase for those times when you just have to suck it up and keep going. No time for whining or pity parties – just figure it out. Everyone has obstacles and baggage to carry. Every day has good and bad. People who accept those truths without feeling sorry for themselves are more successful and happy than those who feel defeated with every setback.

My sister fought a ten-year battle with cancer. She underwent multiple surgeries and treatments and suffered through a lot of illness and pain. If anyone was justified in feeling miserable, she was. But to her, life was good, and even the hard parts could be managed with the right attitude. She continued to live her life one day at a time, raising two fine sons, working with special needs children, and volunteering in her church and community. Even in the midst of her own struggles, she was motivating and encouraging the people around her. She didn’t consider herself brave or heroic or inspirational; she was just doing what needed to be done.

Missy’s legacy lives on in that motto. In those words we hear her cheerful confidence and her ability to meet adversity head on; we understand the implication that the bad stuff is just temporary and things will get better. Those words urge us to accept the adventure of another approach; we will surely find that by changing our viewing angle, those mountains become molehills once again.

Don’t get angry or frustrated or bitter because things didn’t go your way – make the most of what you have, keep a smile on your face, and carry on.

Pretend you’re camping!

Life is good.