Posts Tagged ‘mother’
One only has to tune in to see the exhausted look on virtually every TV weatherperson’s face to know that Mother Nature has many of us on a weather-related rollercoaster ride. This is just as true here in Southern California. While we are always in need of rain, the precipitation has been fast and furious this year—often arriving in torrential downpours that have lasted hours or even days at a time. Because this region is normally so dry and also due to recent fires, these storms have caused quite a bit of havoc.
One recent, very rainy Saturday, I was doing my best to not let the heavy downpours impede my normal routine. I know that may read as silly to those of you swamped by snow, but trust me when I assure you the streets were flooding and you could even spot mini tidal waves crossing the roads whenever heavier vehicles passed by.
It was while stopped at a traffic light that I noticed what seemed like a calamity unfolding across the intersection. A mother and her young daughter, both outfitted with umbrellas, were trying to safely cross the street. While there were no nearby vehicles inhibiting their journey, the rain was excessive. So exaggerated in fact, that accompanying wind caused the little girl’s umbrella to invert and immediately begin filling with rainwater (since it was now a virtual bowl aimed toward the storm clouds).
I watched with concern from my car as the little girl called out for her mom, who immediately turned around and tried to help the little girl navigate the mini swimming pool that the girl’s umbrella had become. Mom and daughter were trying to dump the water from the inverted umbrella without splashing it all over themselves. Then, suddenly, another gust of ferocious wind swept the mother’s umbrella from her hands, onto a nearby grassy embankment.
Concerned for them both, my Superman instinct took over and I immediately looked for a way to park and get across the street to help them (even though my traffic light was still red). I then looked back to the mother and daughter—finally realizing that they were both laughing with delight in the midst of their soggy adventure.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. But sure enough, they were both positively giddy as they (eventually) gave up on un-inverting the daughter’s umbrella, then scurried to the side of the street they’d originally been on to retrieve the mom’s umbrella. At this point, the traffic light changed to green—meaning that mom and daughter would have to wait for another cycle before they could attempt to cross the street again.
As my car passed by them, I was able to see not only their laughter and smiles up close, but also their palpable bond. While keeping a careful eye on the road (AKA mini lake at this point), I offered a quick smile and wave from the conveniently dry interior of my vehicle. The little girl looked at me with glee and waved back. And this was when I offered them both a silent “Thank you” for reminding me that nothing in life has the power to ruin our day—unless we let it.
This mom and daughter would have had every reason to get angry or to throw a temper-tantrum as the rain changed the course of their morning. In fact, I was initially a little nervous the mom might get angry with the little girl for lollygagging behind and accidentally getting her umbrella inverted. But no. Instead, the mom chose to smile despite the odds—surely reemphasizing lessons she must have previously taught her daughter about adversity. Because this little girl was clearly on board with the age-old edict to “Let a smile be your umbrella.”
There will be those who read this that roll their eyes. But I never want to be one of them. I really do consider the mother and daughter’s cheerful attitude to be a gift. A gift that has the potential to remind us all that no matter what we’re going through, there is a joy to be had—if we allow it. It’s all about getting out of our own way and accepting whatever so-called roadblock (or inclement weather) might be thwarting our intentions.
There will always be surprises in life after all. And Mother Nature will often have the upper hand. So trust me when I acknowledge that this reminder to find joy doesn’t mean we won’t be challenged by hardships. But we have the potential to make better, smarter and more informed decisions if we do so from a place of resolve and—if we so choose—a place of amusement.
No inverted umbrella required.
Photo Credit: Flickr
As media outlets trot out more and more people who knew Michael Jackson to share their impressions of him while he was alive, we seem to be left with an image of a performer who was very bitter about his past and quite resentful of having his childhood ‘stolen’ from him. Even among those who did not know Mr. Jackson personally, it seems to be common knowledge that he had issues with the way he was raised and the way he was constantly made to perform from a very early age. Of course, that was then, and this is now.
Sadly, Mr. Jackson’s time has now has passed. But even when he was alive, he gave an impression of a lost soul who had big issues regarding his childhood. This was not only reflected in his music, but also into the sometimes questionable relationships he had with children despite being an adult himself.
I did not know Mr. Jackson. But I know people similar to him. People who are convinced that because of what happened in their past, they cannot be happy today. In fact, I used to be one of those people.
My parents went through a very nasty split (and eventual divorce) when I was younger. The ordeal lasted for roughly 8-10 years and things got quite nasty between my Mom and Dad. They both also got quite abusive with my sister and I. My mother was basically a pathological liar who was desperate to be acknowledged publicly as young, single and childless (even though still married with two children).
My mother’s quest for what she perceived as acceptance led to some horrific incidences that would make a psychiatrist nod in understanding when also told that during that time period I was morbidly obese and continued to gain excess weight. In fact, my parents’ problems began when I was in 1st grade – about the time I started putting on excess weight in the first place. I added more and more excess weight through the years. And looking back, I can see that the weight served as a buffer of sorts (between me and my parents – as well as me and the outside world).
Because my father was never home and my mom was often out on the town (so to speak), I was left alone to raise my younger sister. There were times friends tried to intercede, but my sister and I knew that should we tell others the truth, there would be severe punishment from our parents. Despite this constant threat, at one point I tried calling the police to report the abuse. But because we lived on a military base in Germany, there was little understanding when I explained that the abuse was mostly the verbal and abandonment kind and only on occasion was physical. Thus, my sister and I were left to fend for ourselves. So in essence, our childhood was stolen from us as well.
While my heart goes out to Mr. Jackson and his lifetime of angst over his past, I also wonder if he could have just accepted what transpired, realized he’s an adult and moved on. At a certain point, we have to stop blaming our past (or others in our past) for the shortcomings we find ourselves facing in our present day lives.
Yes, I could tell harrowing tales of my Mom’s monstrous behavior. And I can point to spikes in my weight that correlated with may parents’ outbursts and abuse. But I can also point to a moment in my young adult life that I decided, ‘That was then, this is now.’ And that also happened to be the point when a lot of the excess weight began to be released.
There’s an old adage that goes something like this: ‘If you think of yourself as a victim, then you are a victim.’ And I refuse to be a victim. Especially the victim of something that happened years and years ago.
At a certain point, we need to let it go. For our own peace of mind and mental health. That was then. This is now.
I’m not suggesting we forget any past horrors. Or pretend they never happened. But today – in this moment – we need to take care of ourselves and provide whatever we feel might be missing as a result of past experiences. We can’t make the past go away. But we can control our ‘now’ – and our future. And by deciding that we’re going to stop giving the past anymore power, we can positively affect any circumstance we’re facing – whether weight loss related or if realted to some other kind of addiction or mental/physical crutch we rely on while pointing to the past and saying, “I can’t help it because this happened.”
It’s sad that Mr. Jackson’s legacy is as filled with grief and sadness as it is with memories of his incredible talent. But we can learn from him and from his pain. That in itself can be a gift to all of us from Mr. Jackson.
Acceptance. Understanding. And moving on – without pointing anymore fingers or trotting out the excuse of a past gone wrong.
We have today. And we’re in control. And that’s something worth celebrating – no matter what happened yesterday. No. Matter. What.
Welcome to Just Stop Eating So Much! – the blog that hopes to change lives, one reasonable bite at a time. Just don’t expect a lot of handholding. During my 20+ years of dieting, I found that too much handholding and consoling helped me not to lose weight, but to gain it (and then some). And yes, you read that right – 20+ years of dieting.
At my “peak” (mountain-related word intended), I weighed over 450 pounds. No. That’s not a typo. It’s the truth. At that point, I had no hope of ever getting rid of the excess weight, much less living the ‘normal’ life I dreamed of. Oh, how I wanted to “Fall into the Gap” and buy jeans that weren’t made for a 60” waist – not to mention how I yearned to walk into a room and not feel like everyone was judging me adversely (whether they were or weren’t). I never dreamed I would eventually take off all the excess weight (and do so without any ‘tricks,’ pills, surgery or unhealthy food-group-banning diets).
You see, despite being a “skinny kid” for the first couple years of life, I began to “blossom” around age 6. Suddenly my parents had to shop for clothes in the Sears Big and Tall Catalog and I was restricted to the classic household diet (back in the day) of a burger patty and cottage cheese. In fact, my parents initiated martial law and banned all junk food. Suddenly there were no chips, cookies or candy of any kind to be found in our military base apartment. And trust me, I searched high and low.
No matter though. Where there’s a will, there’s a ‘weigh.’ Having been introduced to the concept of ‘forbidden fruit’ by my parents’ strict eating rules, I was soon stealing money from my Dad’s wallet and high-tailing it to the nearest food store, where I’d stock up on my own personal supply of candy, chips and even ice cream. Now mind you, my Dad was an Air Force Officer and didn’t easily tolerate any disobedience. Thus, I would have to devour the contraband food within a day’s time, otherwise be caught and punished (plus, the ice cream was gonna melt otherwise).
Thus began my cycle of bingeing to excess – usually to the point of terrible physical pain. Sure, my parents saw I was gaining more and more weight. And there were a couple times I was caught with my hand in the cookie jar (figuratively and literally). But the more diets they put me on, the more “Last Suppers” I partook in. Yes, I wanted to be thin and like the other kids. At this point I was the butt of most jokes. But my compulsion to eat was great – especially since, as a kid, I didn’t understand I wouldn’t really be giving up ice cream forever.
My adventures only got bigger from there. Pun intended. The higher on the scale I traveled, the lower my low points sank. From having fifth graders pay a girl to see if she’d actually kiss the school’s resident fat kid (AKA – me). To having a movie theater seat break underneath me while on a date in high school. To having to ask for seatbelt extensions whenever flying. To eating expired potato chips out of the trashcan. To stepping on my fancy digital scale and seeing ‘ERR,’ which I later learned meant ‘Error,’ signaling that the scale was not programmed to weigh anyone heavier than 450 pounds. But all of these low points eventually led up to one heck of a high point – ultimately learning an old adage to be very true: Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels. And that, my dear readers, is what this blog is going to be about:
All the stages of my zany, tense, scary and ultimately joyful adventure in the weight-ing game. And yes – joyful. After all, happiness is one of the key components to any kind of transformation. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s just get back to the original point. This is going to be anything but the typical diet blog.
I plan on sharing funny and inspirational stories, tips, recipes, exercise routines and a whole lot of tough love. No crying to me about ‘I don’t know how I got so fat,’ because if that’s your take on things, you’re lying to yourself. I know because I spent 20+ years lying to myself. But the good news is, that along with the tough love, we’re going to have a lot of laughs. In fact, whether you have 100+ pounds to lose, 5 pounds to lose or no pounds to lose, I encourage you to check back often. Or even better? Subscribe. Because I promise you one heck of a wild ride… One that we can embark on together.
Ready? Set. Go!