Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ain't No Way to Treat a Lady

Over Christmas break I had a falling out with a good friend.  Well, falling out is putting it nicely.  I only sugar-coat it to make it okay to go back to "normal" when I am needy again.  If I don't tell you how awful it really was, then I leave the door open.

It really wasn't a falling out.  It was ugly.  I mean, I have never been spoken to this way....ever!  Even in the midst of an earth-shaking divorce I have never had those words spoken to me, and with such a vengence.  Ugly.  Unkind. Mean.  Cruel.  Loud.

Gotta say it.  It hurt like H-E-double hockey sticks.

God has answers for me that almost always differ from mine.  I think I know what would work best for me and impatiently wait for Him to fulfill the order.  But He knows exactly what I need and when.  And it is always "spot on".  He meets me with a warm blanket and some loving salve to soothe away the aches of trying too long on my own.  God is good.

Many of you know that I am reading and re-reading Eat, Pray, Love.  There is a chapter that comes to mind that describes,

I was married for 23 years since I was 19 years old.  I never knew adult life without my husband.  Good, bad, happy sad.  There were always distractions (insert children) to deter me from really taking a good look at the situation.  But when the end came, people very close to me said they had seen it coming.  Now why didn't they tell me???

Anyway, during those 23 years I ignored (or tried) the changing of the dynamics.  We're just busy.  It's just life.  He didn't mean it that way.  Basically, it was boundary issues.  Mine.

Now, as it says in the book, (and here is where I am beginning to paraphrase the book),

"to have boundary issues one must have boundaries.  But I disappear into the one I love.  I am the permeable membrane.  If I love you, you can have everything.  You can have my time, my devotion, my money, my family, my dog, my dog's money, my dog's time-EVERYTHING! If I love you, I will carry for you all your pain.  I will assume for you all your debts (in every definition of the word).  I will protect you from your own insecurity.  I will project upon you all sorts of good qualities that you have never actually cultivated in yourself and I will buy Christmas presents for your entire family.  I will give you the sun and the rain, and if they are not available, I will give you a sun check and a rain check.  I will give you all this and more, until I get exhausted and depleted. I do not relay these facts about myself with pride, but this is how it's always been."

I have spent more time making sure the other one in my twosome was happy, fulfilled, successful, on time, fed, had a backup toothbrush...well, no need to go on.  And then after I have completed this feat, when I am whipped and tired and needing some care myself, the big dump comes!  And because I fed the expectation that their world would always be "right", my personal expectations fade into the woodwork.  Like they say in the movie, The Christmas Story....I never saw my mom get a hot meal.

In both cases, my friend and my husband, I finally realized that I can and should say no.  Enough.  I can and should receive, at minimum, the common courtesies that we give to absolute strangers.  And if that isn't possible, well then, I will just be alone.

God knew that those harsh, unexpected words from my friend would cause me to stop the insanity.  Deep breath.  Consider yourself.

We cannot and should not buy love. We don't have to trade away ourselves to have it. We deserve it, just by being us.  And if it's not there, either do something about it or move along.

For the past few days I have been humming a song I hardly know, but the one line that has jump started me to action is sung with a twang by Helen Reddy.  "That ain't no way to treat a lady, but maybe it's a way for us to end."

I deserve better.  Friend, you deserve better too.  And to balance this out, we must do better as well.  It is a two-way street.

Remember, words mean things.  Excuses and reasons after the fact do very little to heal.  Our words are flying out there and resound over and over. We cannot get them back.  We can be sincere in our apology and make amends as possible to show that sincerity.  Amends...that's a whole nother discussion.

God knows that I get wrapped up in significant others and lose all thoughts of process, due diligence and self awareness.  I thank Him for answers that I don't want just when I need them!

Dear God,  You are mighty and strong.  You love me and You have my back.  You see my insides and out, my dark and light and You love me anyway.  You think I am the best thing You ever made!  I love You and want to trust You more with the details of my life.  Left to my own devices I just create drama and reek havoc.  Please fill me with peace that only You can supply, no matter my circumstance, no matter the weather, no matter the  feelings, no matter the finances.  You have the right plan just for me! Amen. ~A Lady

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

You Don't Need an Invitation

Where have I been?  I think during the past month I have dropped out of life.  Just plain and simple.  I have written before about being my own best friend, and let me tell you, I did not follow through with my own sage advice.

I did not reach out to many for a friendly ear or a coffee chat.  I didn't write for weeks.  I just let that old Loneliness and Depression take a front seat in the car.  In fact, they took the wheel.

What changed today?  Why am I writing today?  What prompted this sudden and unexpected effort?

Need, friend, need.

As I lay in bed early this morning, peering out the bedroom window and hoping for the cleansing white snowfall that I love so much, I realized I had to do SOMETHING.  Just begin. 

It's not like I don't have plenty to do.  Obviously there is the end of the year stuff, the desk is piled with a mixture of work and personal and Christmas stuff.  I have friends that I haven't spoken to in weeks and well, even the trash needs to go out!

But I am starting here, to talk it out, think it through, find a path through the maze.

As my mind continued to wander during the wee hours this morning, I remembered a commercial that I recently saw for a new show coming on.  I can't remember the show but I sure remember the clip.  The adult daughter said to her mother:

"You don't need an invitation to your own life!"

Well now.  Was she talking to me???  Sure felt like it.

So again I let my mind wander down the places I had not gone in the past few weeks.  The opportunities that were missed while I chose to wrap up in a blanket and disconnect.

You know, nothing good comes from disconnecting.  It just gives Loneliness and Depression an open-mike.  And believe me, even the best antidepressant cannot chase them away without some effort from us.

New Year's is always a time for folks to reflect.  We make promises to ourselves and others.  Sometimes they are kept; most times I wager not.

But Laura, let me remind you that this is YOUR life.  It is not made up of your successes and failures but of who you ARE in your heart.  Don't waste one more minute.  Reach out to those friends.  Take out the trash. File 2010.  Get ready for 2011. 

Folks, let me tell you now.  YOU don't need an invitation to your life.  Don't go to bed tonight feeling the same as you did when you woke up.  Get moving.  Get busy with living or you will be busy dying.

And one more piece of advice as you enter the new year with a fresh approach:  One must be kind to oneself when trying something new. 

Hey, if you are one of those already ahead of the game, be sure to reach out to someone else and encourage them.  You just never know how much it will help.

Wow....and not in a good way.  It's been nearly a month since I have written and ignored the me that is so hungrily searching for my path.  I think I could have used the therapy! 

Dear God,  You have reminded me that I have not asked YOU to help me find my way in a while.  I have been trying to do it on my own.  Help me remember that the castles I build are made of sand.  Only with YOU can I be safe from shifting sand.  Help me feel your love fill my heart so that I have something to give to others.  Thank you for your blessings of a loving family.  ~Me

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

What Do You Have in Your Hand?

Today I am enjoying the "sweet spot" in life.  I may fall short in my explanation of the sweet spot, but here is my understanding of it.

When a batter has a special place on the bat that knocks it out of the park; or someone scratches your back and hits the itch right on; or you get your pillows plumped just perfectly to sleep comfortably.....The sweet spot.

For the moment, I am working from my home office.  I am employed by a company who lets me set my hours from home, about 10-20 weekly.  The other 4 jobs I have are commissioned based and I must set appointments and actually "sell" something to earn a check.

My home office has a 2nd story view of the library and park.  It is a great little room to work in and I enjoy being able to do so any time of the day or night.

But today....The Sweet Spot.  I have been working at my dining room table amidst all of the Christmas decorations, pretty lights, manger scene, snowmen and poinsettas.  Since 7:00 this morning, with my own cup of what is known by my children as "hot drink", I have been hard at work sitting in the sweetest spot of all.

Reminders of the season bring on the joy of Christmas and the giving spirit that seems to take over during this time of year.  I love the routine of the seasons.  They are a comfort to me.  And I intend to enjoy this love, to feed, to care, to call, to reach outside of my sweet spot and perhaps let a little sweet fall on someone else.

What do you have in your hand?  What could you do for others that would create sweetness in their life?  It could be as easy as a warm smile to your neighbor.  A caring note to your grandma.  Babysitting for an overworked single mom.  Give some sweetness and it's funny how it flows right back through you!

But maybe it's more about what do you have in your heart?

Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin....with me.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

If Life is Such a Bowl of Cherries

One of my favorite authors, now passed from cancer, was Erma Bombeck.  I found her as a young mother when I had 3 kids under 6 years of age.  My hands were full, my knees were calloused, (from mandatory daily baths whether they needed it or not), and suffered from too little money and not enough time.  Erma became a friend and co-conspirator during some days when getting my own bath was only possible with careful timing of naps and the school bus returning in the afternoon.

She wrote a book called, "If Life is a Bowl of Cherries, What Am I Doing in the Pits."  Just the title made me laugh out loud and thus began a long adventure of motherhood, the American flag and peanut butter and jelly.

Earlier this week there were some situations that brought on a bout of depression.  I think being single around the holidays has something to do with it.  That, and the kids are grown and have their own lives.  (I sure hate it when a plan works so well that the kids are actually gainfully employed and happy!)

But as I spent the day with my 7-year old nephew Sam, things brightened.  Sam is my only reason that I get to be called Auntie.  His parents were working so he came over around 7:30 a.m. on the day before Thanksgiving.

By 8:00 a.m. we were deep into playing Monopoly, talking about things boys talk about like, well, you know, noises and stuff.  By 9:00 a.m. we had put on the Star Wars dvd.  At 10:30 a.m. he remembered he was hungry.  Four mini bagels with sugar and cinnamon later and we were on a roll.  Fred Meyers saw our faces as we needed icing and candies for the gingerbread house and when we got home we started a game of Sorry that turned into three games (we had to have a tie-breaker).

That evening when his parents came over, we ordered pizza, built the gingerbread house, made Thanksgiving pies and played a rip-roaring game of Monopoly (which thankfully, my brother won, as we are not very good losers in the Holzbach family).

I went to bed that night feeling so fulfilled.  FAMILY.  That's what makes the difference.  It's not the big things like a job promotion, a new car, bigger paycheck, or spendy vacation.  Those can all be wonderful but if not with FAMILY, what does it all mean?

God renewed my spirit of thankfulness.  I was reminded to Count My Blessings, Name Them One by One.  My mind wandered back to many a dark time when God was with me, when He knew all along exactly what I needed, even when I didn't.  As I counted the blessings, the blues just blew away.

I didn't go to bed sad and tearful as in past years, missing my children and the family life.  My heart was content and at peace.  Counting my blessings, and the love and care of my family, made all the difference.  I felt so ashamed of my earlier emotions of sadness and regret.  Just counting the times God saw me through put a skip in my step.

That little song that I have heard and sang all my life goes like this:

Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
Count your blessings,
See what God has done.
Count your blessings,
Name them one by one.
Count your many blessings,
See what God has done.

As we enter into the Christmas season, there will be many who feel they don't have enough.  They will feel shortchanged by life and cheated by love and the feeling of loss will fill their heart.  YOU and I may be the only ones who can share and show how a thankful spirit can change our circumstances.  Be sure to look outside of your circumstances.  Don't miss the opportunity to reach out a hand of hope and a heart of caring.  Like family.  We all need each other. 

Sunday, November 21, 2010

There's Gotta Be Something More

Ever have an emotional week?  One that just leaves you feeling powerless and drained?  This week was filled with topsy-turvy emotion that literally left me bewildered.

During these times, I never doubt that God is with me.  And I know He has done so much for me.  But I found myself saying several times to myself, "there's gotta be something more."

It is because God has done so much for me that I ask this question.  I don't feel like my life demonstrates all that He has done.  I doubt anyone looking at the messy failings and brokenness of my life would see much of what God has to provide.  There just has to be more.

I'm not talking about things.  I don't mean trips, money, success or fame.  I just don't feel my life is the testimony it should be, even though I have had some pretty dark days that God has helped me through.

And can you believe it?  After this week, I go to church and the title of the sermon?  SOMETHING MORE.  (Hey God, guess you got tired of listening to me all week?)

Throughout the sermon, I kept thinking the words to this song:

Jesus is the answer for the world today.
Above Him there's no other
Jesus, is the way!

No matter what our confusion or question, He is the answer.

Then the speaker said, "Be thankful for what you have.  Whatever you have plus God is more than enough."

And then the speaker said something that I felt was right at me:  "Someone here today has been disqualifying themselves long enough."

Wow.  That hit me in the gut.  I cannot tell you how long a voice inside has repeated over and over destructive comments to me.  How unworthy, how ugly, how bad, how old, how broken, how fat, how unloveable.....I need to overcome this and get back in the game.

There is a country song that has been my theme song this week:

There's gotta be something more
Gotta be more than this
I need a little less hard time
I need a little more bliss
I'm gonna take my chances
Taking any chance I might
Find what I'm looking for
There's gotta be something more

As I look back over the sermon notes, I reread the title of the sermon.  It is actually RELEASING Something More.  It says thankfulness RELEASES us into something more.  Being thankful for what you have releases what you need and changes your perspective.

So what a great week to look back over the times in our lives when God was there.  Take note of the way He answered your need.  That same God is with us today to release "MORE" into our lives.

Whatever you hold in your hand is enough with God.
Thankfulness releases us into something "MORE".
We must stay connected to Him.

Dear God,  I continue to shortchange Your impact on my life.  I let the circumstances raise doubts and questions and I try to handle everything by myself.  Show  me again, where you brought me from and where I could have been.  Help me to be grateful for every day, every minute, and to always, always look to You for the anwers.  Amen.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010




the act or the state of expecting: to wait in expectation.
the act or state of looking forward or anticipating.
an expectant mental attitude: a high pitch of expectation.
something expected; a thing looked forward to.
Often, expectations. a prospect of future good or profit: to have great expectations.

I realized something over the weekend at the Take Shape Conference.  I have come to expect things to fail, to go wrong, to not work.  Not just weightloss, but alot of things.  If I don't get the client I hoped, if I lose my keys, if my watch's considered par for the course.  That's just how it happens to me.

What is worse than the low expectations, is the acceptance of it.  I will always be overweight, I will always feel alone, I will never be loved....It is a slippery slope!  In no time at all, I can be at the bottom of the slippery hill with my feet rotating like Road Runner, trying to find my grip.

But when I looked up the word I found two interesting things.  EXPECTATION always is something good, high, better, new.  

And it's a noun.  A thing.  It isn't just some concept or high spiritual notion.  It is an actual thing.

I want to learn the habit of expectation.  Looking forward to good happenings, expecting a sunny day, expecting to run into a friend, expecting to succeed at my food plan.  I have gotten into the habit of ACCEPTING the worst rather than EXPECTING  the best. 

Join with me in setting a new course each morning.  Take time out to plan for success.  Write your feelings down.  Make your food plan for the day with times and meal.  Whether you feel like it or not, make the effort to put a skip in your step and a twinkle in your eye.  Shake hands with your neighbor.  SMILE!

Like the song says:
If I can see it, then I can do it
If I just believe it, there's nothing to it
I believe I can fly
I believe I can touch the sky
I think about it every night and day
Spread my wings and fly away
I believe I can soar
I see me running through that open door
I believe I can fly

Let's change accepting to EXPECTING!

Dear God,  It is easy for me to believe that You have good things in store for me.  Help my unbelief.  During the times when I feel doubt, undeserving, critical....please come into my heart with the warm salve of Your unconditional love so that I may love myself too.  It is only through You that we can be whole.  Help my broken life become something beautiful so that I can share it and help others to find You too.  Amen.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Another Day, Another Decision

Another day, another decision.  Each morning it has to be made.  I realize now that the days that I don't make the decision or "think about it later" gets me into trouble.

So I am starting here this morning.  This is what was working.

1.  I have started (and stopped many times) a food plan that I have seen work wonders for LOTS of other people.  It is ME that doesn't work IT.  But when I was starting the day by blogging my feelings, even if irrelevant to the cause, it got my mind right.

2.  I also have added to that a journal at my computer desk, with the list of times and food choices for each meal just for that day.  In an effort to minimize the task of losing 75 lbs., looking at one meal at a time and conquering that one meal has been most rewarding.  I get to conquer one meal at a time!  That is not as difficult as wanting to lose 75 lbs. sounds.

Whatever is a continual battle in our lives, we can only conquer it one day at a time. 
Or one hour, one minute, or one meal, one bite.

Let's get going!

Dear God, You see the daily struggle that I fight and easily give in.  I need You and Your super-natural strength to keep my mind on the goal and to move forward each day, hour, minute and meal.  I know that this has been a thorn in my side for a reason and it has ruled my life and thoughts like a tyrant for too long.  I believe that I am supposed to become victorious.  This is not a dream just for others but it is possible for me too!  Amen.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Advil PM and a Visit to the Chiropractor are Under Rated!'s been a dreadfully long month or so with my Sophie pup having health problems and being in pain.  We have both been awake many nights with her in pain and crying, yelping, biting herself.

Going to the vet is really no comfort as the visits cost money and there is no resolution.  Even the pain meds weren't relieving her!

Without going into the very long version of this, suffice it to say that yesterday morning the vet prescribed prednisone (only cost $9.47) and it is working!  Last night when we went to bed, Sophie took her meds and me, well, the title says it all.  I knocked myself out! 

You know, sometimes we need to take care of ourselves.  No, I am not advocating drugs but you have to know what I mean.  The need for sleep and comfort had to take priority.  When I woke up today, it was like I was loaded with sugar.  My energy was back!  I felt a skip in my step, I felt my brain working better and I had interest in what was going on around me.

Sleep is so important.  It is vital.  Nothing works its best without having rest.  So don't under rate the basic needs.  Get your sleep. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Fried, Scrambled, Poached

Anyone who has seen the movie "Runaway Bride" knows that Julia Roberts is playing a character who does not know herself very well.  It's to the point that she doesn't even know how she likes her eggs cooked because she always defers to the man of the moment and eats eggs how he likes them.  She claims it is her favorite!

The character also bounces from football to rock climbing to auto repair in her chase to be what she "thinks" her guy wants.

Excuse me, (and this is mostly for the ladies out there since we are the people-pleasers), but this is not acceptable.

I am not pointing fingers.  This has been my problem practically my entire life.  I wanted to avoid conflict.  I wanted things to go smoothly.  I thought being agreeable meant we got along in our marriage.  I didn't like to be "in trouble".  So I went along.

Oh, I planned there would be a day when I took care of myself.  One day, when the kids were grown, I would look into it.  I would lose weight, exercise, read, have friends.....when the kids grew up I would have time for that.

So over the course of 20 yrs plus, I lost myself.  Who am I?  What do I like? What do I want to do with my time?  What's me?!

It occurs to me that when we were little girls playing dressup, we thought we could be anybody.  There was no hesitation to declare ourselves Queen and fight for the prettiest outfit in the dressup box.  My daughter particularly fancied a pink and white feather boa and pranced around the neighborhood like Queen of Boise Street.

Wouldn't it be great to feel so positive about ourselves once again?  And so deserving too!  And the visions we had for ourselves were unlimited.  If I wanted to be a great roller skater, all it took was a few swoops around our basement on skates to declare it.  If I wanted to be a teacher, in just a few adjustments of the play furniture and one change of outfit from the dressup box and Ta-Da!  Or if I wanted to be a loving mother just a few turns again of the play furniture and the addition of a crib and baby doll and I was cooing with the best of them!

Where did that confidence go? 

I have looked around and for a long time blamed anyone else but me.  Mostly, because it was convenient. 

But girls, alas, we are adults now.  And the responsibility to feel good about ourselves lies within.

I admit that it isn't as simple as knowing how you like your eggs cooked.  And you are not alone to say you don't know where to start.  And may I add that we have somehow come to think that taking care of ourselves is selfish.  I beg to differ.  It is selfish NOT to take care of what is God-given in you.

So take a deep breath.  Take a long look.  Make a list of wishes, dreams, hopes, that have yet to come true.  DO NOT PUT A LIMIT ON THIS.  Anything is possible....with God!  Make other lady friends to share and confide your journey.  Read, read, read starting with the Word and listen to your friends who recommend a great book.  I personally have a few faves if you need some ideas.  Write about your feelings.  It doesn't have to be public.  But I have found this blog to be the best source of strength as I unwind what I have been holding inside for so long.

If this sounds too methodical for you, or even overwhelming, then just start simply.  Take care of the physical you by doing a face wash before bed, getting a pedicure, take a short road trip (30 minutes works).  Go to church, take a walk, write cards to others in need.

Be your own best friend.  Love yourself.  Treat yourself kindly.

At the very least, find out how you like your eggs cooked.

At the end of Runaway Bride, when all of the relationships have failed, and Julia is left alone, she makes great discoveries.  She takes time to prepare eggs all the different ways and learns what she likes.  She takes a creative lamp she designed and parlays it into a business.  And she realizes the man she swore she didn't even like is the one!

God is your strength, your high power.  With Him, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE.  Only believe....and get started!

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Mind Over Matter

I was introduced to Winnie the Pooh many years ago.  But even now as an adult, I have an unexplainable attraction to Pooh and his friends.  If you have ever stopped long enough to watch some of the Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, you will witness a strength of friendship that is hard to find.  Here is an example of a conversation between Christopher Robin and Pooh:

Christopher:  Pooh, promise you won't ever forget about me, ever.  Not even when I'm a hundred.

Pooh, pausing to think:  How old shall I be then?

Christopher:  Ninety-nine.

Pooh, nodded:  I promise.

There are lots of Pooh-isms that are fun to read.  And since he is a bear who loves hunny, and I like to eat, he is very near and dear to my heart.  I like to eat things.  Happy, sad, stressed, tired.  Anytime is hunny time!

The last few days have been mentally draining.  It may sound slight to you but my puppy is having health problems and it is difficult to handle, emotionally and financially.  So guess what?  My Pooh Bear tendancies have taken control and I have fallen off the food plan wagon.  And not just one meal.  Many.

But here is a Pooh-ism that can help for today, whether you are fighting an addiction to hunny or just have something to overcome:  Mind over matter.

It is a fight in the mind to choose the right answer, to overcome bad thoughts, to stick to a promise, to be courteous, to eat right.  If we can control our thoughts, we can control our actions.  Slow down and think before speaking, acting, eating!  CHOOSE what you will do, what you will think, how you will act. 

Recently Pastor Joel Osteen's daily devotion said this about "One Thought at a Time":

 “...take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”(2 Corinthians 10:5, NIV)

TODAY’S WORD from Joel and Victoria
Transforming something in your life whether it’s your attitude, mindset, financial situation or bringing change into a relationship can seem like an overwhelming task. But as the old saying goes, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” Likewise, the way you change your life is one thought at a time.
Your thoughts set the direction of your life. If you need to change the direction you are headed, you simply need to change your thoughts in that area. When a thought comes to your mind that “you’re never going to get well; this is your lot in life,” don’t dwell on that. Don’t sit around and have a pity party. No, immediately reject it and replace it with God’s Word. Just say, “Father, You said in Isaiah, ‘By the stripes of Jesus I am healed.’ You said in Jeremiah, ‘You would restore health unto me.’ So Father, I thank You that I’m coming out of this in the name of Jesus.”
I encourage you to be aggressive in taking every single thought and making it obedient to Christ. Stay determined, stay focused and keep declaring His Word because you can change your life, one thought at a time!

Isn't it the truth?  As those wrong thoughts invade your mind and take over your day and your attitude, replace those negatives with a positive.  Mind over matter.

And the rest of that little tune says:  Mind over matter, will make the Pooh un-fatter! 

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Energizer Bunny

During the past 5-6 years when all of the unaddressed issues in my life sprung a major leak, it has been difficult to keep going.  Many times I wanted to give up.  Quit.  Every step took great effort.  Answers were few and far between.

Everyone goes through similar periods when we feel so everyone....and we would bet the farm that we will never be any good again.

This is exactly how the enemy wants us to feel.  He keeps pounding on us, stomping us, tripping us, kicking us until we are so battered and bruised that all we can do is lay down and listen to his words of failure and pain:

See, everyone knows what you are really like.
Yes, they do know what you did and they have told everyone.
No one will ever love you.
You can never be fixed.
You will always feel this way.  Always.
Don't bother trying because it won't make a difference.
Nothing will change.

These are just a few of the destructive words I heard when I felt so down, out and hopeless.  And as I have started this new food plan, it can be easy to hear some of those same taunts:

It's not enough.
It won't make a difference.
No one will ever love you.
Why bother?  Everyone knows all your mistakes anyway.

Well, let me encourage you and me again.  There is ALWAYS a way to get there.  God does not give up on us so who are others to give up on us?  Are they bigger than God?  Who are we to give up on ourselves?

Just keep taking one step at a time.  Keep breathing.  If you trip (and bust your teeth, break a foot, ruin the tendons in your hands), GET BACK UP!  It's not about the fall.  It's about the getting up and righting your circumstance.

Oh, I can't tell you it will be easy.  Most things that are worth something are NOT easy.  If it were easy, we would have more heroes in this life.  Everyone would do it.

Look, faith isn't faith when everything is rosy.  The good times are mercy and grace and faith is rarely required.  Faith is when you believe even though you cannot see the good.  We have to be like the Engergizer Bunny....take a lickin' and keep on tickin'.

There was something that God gave to me when I first got divorced and had just moved back to Oregon to live with my parents.  Everyday on my way to work, when I took the turn onto Burnside headed east, there sat Mt. Hood in all of its glory.  Beautifully white with snow and the sun coming up behind it.  I cannot even begin to tell you how gorgeous this sight is to me.

But I felt like God spoke to me and said, you know, when the mountain is covered up by gray clouds and rain, you never think that someone took the mountain away.  It never crosses your mind that, oh no, what happened to Mt. Hood?  It's gone! 

No, there is a blessed assurance that it is still there behind the clouds.  We can remember the days of sunrise and snow and we can know those days will come again.  (In Oregon, they don't come often enough during the winter but hey, we have the mountain!)

God is just like Mt. Hood.  Even when the days are gray and cloudy, HE IS THERE!  We can count on Him.

I have thought of this story often and have shared it at times when a friend was in need.  It is a wonderful reminder when we feel lost, alone, like we don't matter, that the clouds WILL part and the sun WILL shine and the mountain WILL appear again.

One more thing:  there is no storm so big or cloud so gray that the Mountain can't show His glory. 

Don't give up on the callings in your life.  You can make it.  The Mountain is there just like you knew He was when the sun shined.  Just believe and keep taking that next right step, one at a time.


ps  So my friend has joined the food plan with me and it looks like when I get this weight off I will be a health coach.  (I said when, not if!)

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

So today was my second weigh-in.  I have lost 6 lbs. in just two weeks! 

In the long view of things, this is not alot.  But have you ever been on a food plan that you saw those kinds of steady results?

Friday, October 29, 2010

Stir the Pot

In the past few weeks I have gone through some major breakthroughs that I have waited for years to experience.  As a result, I had a huge shift in my demeanor, my self esteem and my level of joy.  It was like I saw life in color again after a long time in black and white.

I also had a wonderful weekend with a good friend who needed a friend.  And I felt like I genuinely was there for her and that my own past experiences were used to help her through her difficult time.  I never would have chosen to go through my life's experiences but it sure felt good to put them to use!

So riding a "high" for a few days, I felt better about myself than I had in years.  Of course, the other shoe was about to drop....(this is called Life).

A very good friend of mine told me a saying that his grandpa used to say.  "If you stir the pot, it starts to stink."  How true this is.

God has begun again to stir the pot of my life....and it smells horrible.  As this stirring continues, more and more rises to the top, things that need to be handled, things that need to change.

While the situation that brought this to the surface was extremely hurtful, I also realize that without it, change would never come.  When we are uncomfortable we do something about it.  We are made to act rather than sit by and watch.

I am asking, practically begging, God to prepare my heart with the right words and attitude, and the ability to make a wrong as right as is possible.  It has smelled bad for too long.  It is time. 

Dear God,  You see my situation in its entirety.  You know my heart and my thoughts and my intentions.  In my humanness, I have hurt others and You expect me to learn and grow from this.  It is difficult to face.  It's been easier to hide and pretend.  I ask that You go with me and that the words of my mouth will demonstrate You in my life.  Not just today, everyday.  Amen.

ps  My food program is going along very smoothly.  But when I feel good about myself, it always seems easier.  Taking care of personal or work issues that need attention can keep us on track!

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Forever Friends

"Friends are friends forever, if the Lord's the Lord of them.
And a friend will not say never, 'cause the welcome will not end.
In the Father's hands we know
That a lifetime's not too long
To live as friends."

God has blessed me with a few wonderful friends.  The kind that you may not see for a while but when you do, you start talking as if there has been no space or time.  The type that know all about you and love you anyway.  The ones who tell it to you straight but you don't mind because you know how much they care about you.  At times they know you better than you know yourself and can see when you don't know what to do.

Friends like this are difficult to come by.  But I would rather have one good friend like this than millions chanting my name.

Dear God,  Today I am especially grateful for the precious friends you have blessed me with in my life.  You knew, God, that there would be times when a physical being could comfort me as a representative of You and Your love.  I have felt that several times in the last 24 hours.  Help me to give of what I receive to the friends in my life who need my love and care.  Please help me to mindful of those around me.  I am grateful and thank you for the Forever Friends You have given to me.  Amen.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Everyday we make choices about what to wear, what to eat, what appointments to make, friends to see and maintenance items on our home and vehicle.

Most of these choices take at least a moment to deliberate the solution and make an action plan.  Even the choice between tuna salad and turkey sandwich takes a slight pause for consideration.

So how come we don't pause in the morning to choose our emotional coat?  I daresay that most of us jump out of bed after 3 hits of the snooze and run like banshees with our heads cut off most of the day!

It's not until we are depleted of all energy, exhausted and running on empty that we start considering that we are not fueled up.

I challenge myself today to CHOOSE JOY as my emotional coat.  I want to expect that there will be ups and downs to life and prepare my mind each day to be JOYFUL in all of my circumstances.  I have had a PollyAnna mentality that no bad things should happen and when they do, I consider myself a failure or a bad person.  I now realize that it is life. 

God made us and knows we are full of imperfections.  It doesn't surprise Him, not one bit!  But I bet He wonders why we wait so long to call on His name and get refueled for what is in store each day.

That old hymn is so true:  Put on the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.

CHOOSE JOY!  It will lift your spirits and raise your productivity, your relationships, your outlook on life.

Hey.....It's your decision.  You get to choose.

Dear God, Thank you as always for another day.  You are indeed a friend closer than a brother and I can call on You anytime and anywhere.  I CHOOSE to commit to JOY each day as I become more aware of the appearance of my heart than the brand name of my outward clothes.  Amen.

ps  First week of food plan and I weighed in today.  Down 3 lbs!

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Baggage, Suitcases and Carry-ons

You know, lately we have been inundated with the airlines trying to charge us for every single item we need to carry on the plane.  Each airline has different rates based on different sizes and weights of luggage.  Only one airline has the tagline:  Bags fly free!

If you would have asked me just as recently as a few weeks ago, I would have said that I don't have any baggage.  I would have denied the need to bring anything along on this journey of life.  All my stuff is neatly handled and packed away.  (Ummm.  Really?)

As I am taking a mental inventory each morning, I realize that I have been in denial about my luggage needs and that the situation needs tending. 

Now there are lots of kinds of luggage.  Some are just plain and serviceable.  Some are elaborate material and major name brand.  Large or small, worn, broken handles, and ribbons for identifiers amongst the other potential look-alike luggage on the carousel.

But as I contemplated this post, I thought that there is really three kinds of luggage in life.  Obviously, I don't really mean the actual luggage piece itself, but the contents of each.   Here is my overview:

Baggage:  Baggage is the really old stuff that just keeps hanging on from so long ago that has not been resolved and but you can't remember the last time you considered it.  It's the stuff in the furthest corner of the attic and if you were a truly compulsive cleaner you wouldn't even have to look inside to know it needs your touch before it can go in the trash.

Suitcases:  This is the stuff that is lingering and has some need for attention.  It's not really urgent but it nags at you any time you have a quiet moment.  Sorta like the winter sweaters that could be folded and stored until October and it's already July.

Carry-ons:  I think this is the stuff we are made of every day.  That we take with us and at times we consider it urgently necessary material.  It's right on the tip of our tongues and at the front of our minds when we aren't otherwise engaged.  We put it at the top of the list like your toothbrush and clean undies!

I am sure you can already see where this is going.  Most of us have some of all of these pieces.  Don't feel badly about it.  We all have it.  It just needs tending with some regularity.  I don't know about you but I don't have that much storage space for luggage to keep piling up in the attic.  I need room for the important stuff like the kids baby books, remnants of high school prom, and a box of favorite books and cds.  Well, okay, my Partridge Family albums too.

So, it is time to take inventory.  Personal inventory.  I really have loved that phrase ever since I heard it in an A.A. conversation.  It is a powerful statement because just saying it makes you feel the need to do it!  It is an action statement.  As Dr. Phil sometimes says, It's got a verb in the sentence.  Personal inventory.

As you ponder on how to even start this Personal Inventory Project, I am reminded of another friend's blog I read recently where she started to clean the bathroom and before she knew it, the entire bathroom closet contents were out and there actually was a bigger mess than when she started. 


So it makes sense to me to review my carry-on first.  Reconsider what is really necessary for each day.  You don't need the broken pen that was used to sign your mortgage 20 years ago, the empty bottle of hairspray you swiped from that fancy bathroom in NYC, or the countless gum wrappers to make a chain any more.  What?  Are you preparing to go on a game show or something?

Let's call these items the time someone forgot your birthday, feeling bad about gray hairs, and the worry about sugar-free gum and is it really a bad choice.  Who needs this in our carry-on for EVERY DAY.  We are hauling around stuff that just doesn't have to affect our mind-set, our thinking, or our committment to improvement.  Carefully consider these emotions and how these small things weigh on you and drag you down.  You will feel so much better when the carry-on is lighter and it actually fits in the overhead bin.

Then we have the suitcases.  This is important stuff that can't just be thrown out without review.  It will have to be opened and looked through, each piece individually.  Decisions will have to be made and possibly some action.

Let's describe this stuff as hurting your best friend's feelings and pretending everything is really okay, or telling that "small" lie that won't hurt anyone, or not keeping your word to your kids when you promise to play ball with them Saturday morning.

This is the stuff that makes us who we are and is demonstrated in how we live.  Sure, you may have been kind to the older woman at the supermarket and let her checkout ahead of you but that doesn't make up for causing your friend pain or letting your kids down.  Attention is needed before removal.

See what I mean?  You can't just take the suitcase and throw it out.  These things need attention.  They need action from you.  The action you take can determine how much lighter the suitcase will be.  The other option is to just keep hauling it around.  Sure your suitcase may have a handle and smooth rolling wheels if you are lucky.  But sooner or later, you will get tired of tugging it around with you.

And then we come to the baggage.  The old hurts and disappointments that affect our effectiveness even though we never take it out and look at it anymore.  We have ignored it so long but it is so engrained in the fiber of us that we don't have to pull that heavy bag out of the attic to know.  We have smoothed it over, painted it and just ignore the crack in our being.  We think others don't see that crack and so we don't either.

Let's describe baggage as a broken heart, the habit of blaming others, and the idea that we've always done it this way.

THIS STUFF NEEDS TO GO TO THE DUMP!  As soon as possible.  But it must be handled first.  It needs attention before it can be tossed for good and lighten the burden you are carrying.

I read a book called "The Hiding Place" and it is about Cori Ten Boom and her family who help protect and hide Jews during WWII.  They had a secret room in their house and they helped anyone they could, anytime they were asked.

Her father was a watchmaker and there were routine train trips to make sure the time at the watch shop was in keeping the big clock in Amsterdam.  As a little girl, Cori would make this trip with her father and she enjoyed the adventure very much.

On one of these trips, she questioned her father about some adult issues that were concerning her.  Her father stopped in his tracks and set down his heavy bag carrying the time-keeping equipment.  It wa so heavy it landed with a thud.  He asked Cori to pick up the bag and carry it for him.  Of course, she couldn't even lift it off the ground.  She looked up at him and said, I can't carry it.  I am not strong enough.

Her father said, And so it is with this situation Cori.  You are not able to carry the weight of it so I will carry it for you until you are ready.

Has God spoken to you yet?  He is speaking to me.  I can do all the housekeeping of my luggage that I can, by making amends to those I have hurt, asking for forgiveness, changing my ways.  I am the first to admit that I cram my luggage full and it barely will close.  There is alot of work to do.  And I am willing to change and lighten the load.

However, there are also times that it is too much for me alone.  But I have a Friend and HE will carry it for me. 

"He will carry you when your strength won't go any farther; when you have waved goodbye to the very last dream of your heart.  He will carry you when the tears pour out like a river.  When you cry in the night not to wait til the morning light."

So don't be taken over by the weight of your past.  Don't let the airlines weigh you down with charges and fees that are random and unfair.  With God you have the power to lighten your load....right now!  And it has to be said, With God, bags fly free!

Dear God,  Thank you again for another day to celebrate what you have done for me.  Thank you for speaking to me each morning and empowering me to handle what is before me today.  What a Friend you are to carry my load for me when it is too much for me to bear. Help me to grow stronger in You and to have wisdom in what I choose to carry around with me each day.  Amen.

ps  Just starting Day 5 of my food plan.  Had a bagel yesterday morning for breakfast and that isn't on the plan.  But made an immediate correction and got right back on track for the rest of the day.

Friday, October 22, 2010

You Can Still Get There From Here

You know, like most dieters, I have failed multiple times.  What a roller coaster of a ride to be on with Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig, Weight Loss Center, Sugar Busters, ephedrine pills, Under 10 Grams of Fat Daily Diet and No Limit on Sugar Diet, Fruit Only Diet, and of course, The How Long Can I Go Without Eating Diet and back again for more rounds of the same.

Roller coasters are supposed to be fun but, can I get an Amen that trying multiple diet plans is NOT on the fun list!

Also, like most dieters, because of all of the failures, that's all we think can happen when we diet....FAIL.  But thanks to my friend Kellee, who wisely asked me, what if I tried and this time I didn't fail, I am thinking differently today.

There is a story that I heard Pastor Joel Osteen tell that literally changed my life.  I love Pastor Joel and you will probably hear me share lots of his wisdom.

He tells about how when we have God in our lives, it is like having a GPS system.  You know how you put the address in the GPS and it calmly gives precise turns and travel clues to your destination.  But sometimes we miss the turn or someone distracts us and we drive too far, and we find ourselves no longer following the map.

What does the GPS system do at this point?  It recalculates the directions to GET YOU TO YOUR DESTINATION.  It doesn't matter if it was YOU who missed the turn or YOUR TALKING FRIEND who distracted you, the GPS is on the job, making a way to get there.

Isn't that just like God?  There is no limit or cap on our messups, He can make a way.  We can still get to our appointed place and be all that we were created to be.

The struggles in my life had made me feel so bad about myself.  And I allowed the voices to tell me, see, no one likes you.  They all think you are a bad person.  There is no hope for you.  No one will ever love you.  You have had your chances and there are no more.

My daughter and others mentioned to me from time to time that I needed to forgive myself and move on.  Of course, I practically screeched my reply of, how do I do that?  It's so much easier to say than to do.  Add to that my personality that likes a check-list to work on and, well, abstracts are not my thing.

But it did put it in the forefront of my personal inventory (that's a good AA phrase).  Recently, I was on a short, weekend road trip and coming home from Ashland through the beautiful and forested drive to SunRiver and home again.  It was so beautiful.  And somehow God used that beautiful drive to renew my spirit and I felt forgiveness flow.  It was a miracle.

When I woke up the next morning I felt like I was seeing my room in color instead of black and white.  I cannot remember the last time I felt like this.  I haven't been the same since. 

God knows what we need and when we need it.  Until He provides His answer, we are to "just do the next right thing".  And keep doing it.  And do it some more.   You can still get there from here. 

I haven't arrived yet.  I am traveling this road of change and growth.  And I thank God that He is with me.  He comforts me.  He provides.  His answers are the right answers so why would I want anything else?

Dear God,  Thank You for another day of life.  I desire to do my part to make it a life worth living.  After all You have done for me, my life should shine for others to see.  Nothing else will do.  Amen.

ps  Had a slow start to eating my food plan today but still working it!  Weigh day is next Tuesday so we will see how successful I am this first week.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What If There's a Friend in the Mirror?

There is a book (and of course, a movie) that is called Eat, Pray, Love that really opened my eyes to some of the pieces of me.  In particular, there is a story about Liz, who has been through a divorce, another broken relationship, and depression meds.  She is rather down and clearly on the edge. 

One day she rushes into the elevator and caught an unexpected glimpse of herself in the security mirror.  Her brain does a quick reflex and says, "hey, you know her!  That's a friend of yours!"  She even started to rush towards herself to hello when she stopped and laughed at herself.  Liz tells how in that unexpected and unguarded moment she recognized herself as a friend. 

As she writes in her journal, Liz promises to be a better friend to herself and to know that she will always be there and never be alone.  She promises to love herself and to protect herself.  This causes her to experience one of the first good nights sleep where Loneliness and Depression do not sleep-over.

This story (paraphrased by me)  really hit home.  As a young wife at 19 yrs of age, I literally gave up on myself.  I truly believed that by putting others first, I would be better.  But 23 years of marriage and 5 years of divorce later, I can assure you that this is not the case.  God has another way.

Yes, I sang the song in Sunday School called Jesus and Others and You, what a wonderful way to spell JOY!  This song implies everyone else before self.  But if we are not taking care of ourselves, particularly by being One with our Maker, we can be of no service to others.

This is where I find myself.

Actually, in the past few months in searching for a path, an answer, I started reading the Alcoholics Anonymous books.  I am not a drinker and this is not a problem, but I saw in it a logical path of improvement and wanted to know more.

As I reviewed my learnings with my A.A. friend, I asked him in frustration, what is it with me?  What is my problem that I can't get over?

Having known me during the divorce years, he said frankly, well, you seem to have resentment towards your ex.

My immediate and almost expected response was DENIAL (more on that word later).  Oh no, I said.  I am over that.  I can even say I care about him and love him.  Why, we even talk on the phone at times!

But just as quickly as I said it, another thought just burst forth. 

I have never had my needs met.

And just like that, thank you, Lord, I understood myself.  I am so grateful that I wasn't sent around the world for weeks and weeks trying to figure this out.  God graciously provided the answer in that moment of desperate questioning. 

Now let me clarify "needs".  I had a wonderful childhood.  I had great parents who will be celebrating their 50th anniversary next year.  I had the tree house, skates, was popular at school, first chosen for kickball....

I am saying that my emotional needs were never met.  And that may sound like I am blaming the significant others in my life, but I am not.  We have to take responsibility for how we allow others to treat us.  And instead, I believed if I was somehow less than the other person, it was the way to a successful relationship.

Does this sound like a conversation you've ever had?

Where would you like to go for vacation?
Wherever you think.  I'm not sure.

What would you like me to bring home for dinner?
Whatever is easy.

No opinion meant I was a good person, partner, mother, friend.  In case you don't get it....IT'S NOT TRUE!  And it's boring. 

God created us.  He loves us.  If we don't love ourselves then we can't be a servant, a friend, a partner, a parent.  At least, not a good one.  Because everything we do is torn down by our own hands.  Our low self-esteem causes us to believe that we are not good enough....for anything.

My last point in this blog is: What if?  My friend Kellee was coaching me recently and asked me what was I afraid of to try to lose the weight, since it is so important to me.  My answer was that I am afraid of failing.  She was very intuitive when she asked me, but what if this time you didn't fail?

And for a split second I felt that hope of seeing a future with my weight under control.  Like I actually could do it.  And how it would feel.

I challenge myself today to be a friend to myself and consider what if when I make my food choices and other important and casual decisions today.

Dear God,  You know me and my thoughts.  You made me and I am wonderfully made.  Heal my mind to think your thoughts, to dream your dreams, to live your life.  Depression and Loneliness have no place here.  Help me to see my friend in the mirror.  I hope she will smile at me.  Amen.

ps I followed my food plan yesterday.  I feel better already.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Decision Day

I am praying this will be the time....I have tried so many times and like others out there I have never, not once, finished the journey.  Oh sure, I have lost 50 lbs. twice and in no time flat put it back on and more.

But I digress.  My story will come out over time.  My purpose today is to begin in a new way to fight an old battle with myself. 

You know, I felt bad using my own name in the title.  But there is a reason for that.  I want to find out how to love me, know me, celebrate me and all (and I do mean all) my imperfections.

The basics of the story?  Probably it will sound very familiar to you.  But it happens in decades...At age 7 being made fun of in 2nd grade for being chubby by girls whose names I can still remember; at age 17 having my best guy friend tell me for the first and not the last time, if you only lost weight you would be hot (I weighed a "horrid" 132 lbs.); at 27 having a spouse that had a low tolerance for imperfection (that's putting it mildly); at 37 having a significant person in my life and hearing again, if you only lost weight; and now at 47 still fighting the same battle and feeling 7 yrs old again.

During my marriage and raising 3 children, the excuse was always, someday the kids would be grown and I would have time for myself.  THEN, I always promised, I would have time for me.

And then as my spouse continued to put the pressure on to lose weight, of course I gained instead.  So it became HIS fault that I didn't love me.

But now, I am single, the kids are grown and doing their adult thing, and it isn't anyone's fault but mine.  I have been divorced for over 5 years and I can no longer put the blame on my former spouse.  It all lies with me.

So the Journey to Laura is me searching for me.  The Laura who did not love herself enough to take care of herself.  And the years piled up.  And the pain grew bigger.  And so did I.

This may sound sad and depressing but I assure you that if you stay with me, there are alot of positive stories to come.  These past years have not been for nothing.  Many internal battles have been won.

This weight fight is like the last frontier.  My weight i.e. lack of love for Laura, has stood between me and many a dream.  I want to win this once and for all.  I want to look in the mirror and see a friend not a broken, sad, wrinkled woman who has given up.

So off I go....Day 1.  Small steps.  I have planned my meals for the day.  I started my journal and this blog.  I am going to love me more than yesterday.  And it is going to feel good.

Dear God, please help me change my thinking.  Please help me to think about what if I succeed rather than what if I fail again.  I know You want me to be whole in my heart, mind and body.  Thank You for Your unfailing love and the many chances You give us to make things right.  May I honor You in how I live today.  Amen.