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she makes me stronger

7 May

The other day, Kirsten, author of one of my new favorite blogs, Results Not Typical Girl, turned me on to a hilarious comedian named Anita Renfroe!  If you aren’t familiar with Ms. Anita, I highly suggest you check her out.  She’s a comedic mastermind that puts a unique spin on everyday life and turns those little annoyances that stress us out and wear us down into hilarious songs that you can’t help but laugh at!

In honor of Mother’s Day, I wanted to share this video with you as I think mothers and reformed hard-headed children alike can relate to this song.  This is Anita Renfroe singing Momisms to the tune of The William Tell Overture (the Lone Ranger theme song):

Since we are approaching Mother’s Day, I thought it would be fitting to write a post about the strongest woman I know.

Growing up I never realized how much my mom had on her plate.  She made me miracle soup when I was sick, kissed my boo-boos, laughed at my jokes, held my hand as I crossed the street and spanked my behind when I was out of line.  She was good cop, bad cop and everything in between.  Don’t get me wrong, I was blessed to have two of the most amazing parents so my mom wasn’t completely alone.  She and my dad divorced when I was young, and although my dad was still very much a part of our lives, my sister and I lived day in and day out with my mom.

As a single mom, she juggled a full-time job and two kids—one a healthy little angel (my sis) and the other a sickly little terror (with a big heart).  She made sure we did our homework, attended our school plays and recitals, and made sure we had a hot meal every night…even when she was too exhausted to actually eat any of it herself.  She gave gave gave and never expected anything in return.

It wasn’t until after college when I was moving to a new city thousands of miles away, did I realize how much I was going to miss my family, especially my mom.  While she was 100% supportive of me moving out of state for my first “real” job and trying to make it on my own, it wasn’t until I was in the car about to pull out of our drive way that I noticed a little something in her eyes that gave away that she was going to miss me almost as much as I was going to miss her.  Had I been paying attention, I may have noticed this look at other points in my life–like my first day at “big kids” school, the first time I went out on my own in the car, and maybe even when I moved to a new city for college.

Regardless of how these little milestones may have signaled that her little girl was growing up, she did the best she could to set me free and let me enjoy life.  Although she would never say anything to hold me back from my dreams (or better yet send me back to live in my childhood room), I could see in her eyes that this was not going to be easy for her either.

As soon as I was out on my own, paying bills, going to work, living with roommates and getting home whenever I wanted, it didn’t take long to realize how much my mom taught me.  Had it not been for her teaching me how to cook, pleading with me to clean my room, frightening me into making good grades, and most importantly getting on her knees and praying for me every night…I wouldn’t be who I am now.

It’s crazy how much we take for granted as children…and even as young adults.  I’m 33 now and still to this day I am learning life’s little lessons and calling my mama as soon as times get tough.  And just as she’s done every day since I can remember, she’s ready– armed with a warm smile, a big hug, and an encouraging word.  She protected me from things that were life-threatening, but let me fall sometimes just so I could learn how to pick myself up.  She patiently stood by my side, when Lord knows I didn’t always make it easy.  She showed me how to love, encouraged me to follow my heart, and taught me where to pull strength from when life seemed too much to bear.

Today, even as she gently eases into her 60’s, she continues to push me to be better than I was yesterday and never fails to teach me something new everyday.

On a walk we took earlier this week, I started getting tired and tried to convince her that the next time we venture out, we should take a path with less hills.  She slowed down and looked back (yes, she may be in her 60’s, but that little lady can move!) and said…

“Do we want the easy path, or the path that will make us stronger?”

I couldn’t do anything but grin.  Of course she was right… this was a point that she’s made many times throughout my life.  Everyone has obstacles and paths of great resistance, but these struggles are, while difficult and sometimes seemingly never ending, life’s little challenges that make us stronger.

I guess being a hard-headed brat is just a part of growing up for some of us kids, but what’s amazing is what that word “unconditional” really means.  I don’t have kids of my own and as I see some of my friends who already have a few in tow, it amazes me how much they’ve changed and how in love with those little cutie-pies they are.  I remember my mom, half-joking, warning me that when I grow up, my children would be 2x worse than I was!  (maybe that’s why I don’t have any kids).  But whether that’s true or not…I just hope that I can be 1/2 the mom that she was.

So this Mother’s Day, take time to reflect on the good times you’ve shared with your mom (or mother-figure).  If you are blessed to still have her in your life…Thank her for helping to make you the person you are today. And mom, if you one day read this, you are my rock and I love you for all that you’ve done and all that you continue to do to make me stronger.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!

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a little about me, this blog and my mission

5 Apr

Thanks for taking the time to visit my blog.

No, this isn’t a blog about gambling, well at least not in the casino-style…lose your money kind of way.

This blog is about my personal journey to save my own life.  I have been blessed to have drawn a favorable hand for 33 years, but it doesn’t take a doctor to tell me the direction that I am headed.  The battle I am fighting is one that many people fight every day.  What I am seeking is simple: a way to live a healthier life and dodge the many diseases and conditions that I’ve set myself up for over the years.  My goal is to lower my odds of getting the various ailments that I am now at risk for, either by genetics or just by simply making poor choices.

My name is Dee and I decided to start this blog for many reasons.

  1. To acknowledge that I have a problem—I can see it and more importantly, I can feel it.
  2. To hold myself accountable to making a real change this time.
  3. To create a dialogue with many others who have already started down this journey in their personal lives who may be able to offer advice and good old-fashioned support.
  4. To meet people just like me who struggle with knowing that they need to make a change, but lack the gumption to take that first step
  5. To journal the highs and lows of this journey—I know it won’t be easy…if I thought it was going to be…I would have done this long ago.

I chose the title, Odds Against Me, not to imply defeat or to give myself an excuse when I inevitably try to justify my way out of this, but more to acknowledge that I know what I am up against.  I am not a betting kind of girl…never have been and never will be (just not good at it).  But some simple research indicates that I am a person at high risk and every day, week, or month that goes by, I gamble away something precious—my health.

There are many vices out there and things that we can easily develop unhealthy relationships with, so this journey is not unlike any other journey for the millions of people who one day wake up and realize that they have to actively take charge of their lives and make some changes before it is too late.  I am just one more person who has decided to fight.  I recognize that I am vulnerable and there are many factors working against me.  I could easily choose to continue to do nothing as if this was going to magically fix itself.  But let’s get real here….it’s past time to put up a fight.  The way I see it, I have nothing and everything to lose.

Contrary to many misconceptions, I (like many others) didn’t get this way because of a lack of education, lack of funds or because I am lazy.  I hold a degree, I work hard to climb the corporate ladder (a bit of a workaholic), I volunteer to create opportunities for others to take steps to better themselves and I am clear of my health risks.  I am not going to say I got this way due to genetics, albeit there are some genetic factors that help to put me further at risk.  I sit here today to take responsibility for simply deciding to focus my energies elsewhere and unfortunately not always practicing what I might preach to others.  But alas, it is less important how I got here and way more important what I will do to change things now that this is my reality.

This journey is my attempt to get off the slippery slope which leads to deadly conditions like high blood pressure, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke, cancers, gallbladder disease and so much more.  While I don’t have all the answers and don’t know how this will end…I do know that I want to live a healthier life and make better choices.  So, here we are…a journal about my battle to live.  Understanding how blessed I am to still be here to even write these words.

This blog marks the beginning of a long overdue journey.  While I don’t have control over many things in my life, I do realize that I must take the first step to give myself a fighting chance at a longer and healthier life.  So I am ready to embark on the fight of my life… regardless if the odds are against me!

everything happens for a reason

5 Apr

A few months ago, I was laid off.  This is something that many people have experienced before and possibly going through right now, given the state of the economy.  For me it was a rude awakening and realization that the path I’ve taken to set myself up for a ‘good life’ was destructive in many ways.

Since graduation, I had this idea in my mind that if I worked hard and focused on climbing the corporate ladder, that I’d have time for a real life later.  While I don’t think the concept of working hard is bad, I believe that my extreme approach was definitely not healthy.  I became one of those people who frequently pulled all-nighters, worked through lunch, worked on weekends, skipped happy hours, declined social invitations, lost touch with friends, missed doctor appointments and worked through sickness that should have landed me in bed.  I became a working machine, with my fuel being positive feedback, better titles, larger offices, and more money.

Clearly things were looking great! (Yea right…so I thought…)

I believe that everything happens for a reason.  It wasn’t until I got laid off did I even have time to take a step back and look at my life.  With the extra time on my hands I finally got the chance to look at where I’ve been and the direction I am headed.  It didn’t take long to see that I had started defining my life by my career and the projects I worked on.  It also was very easy to see that if I didn’t make a change to this warped mentality, the life that I was trying so hard to make better, was probably not going to be as long as I had hoped.

This extreme focus on work may have been my way of running away from bigger and far more important tasks, like eating healthy, going to the doctor regularly and being physically active.  Now with time on my hands and no huge project to distract me, I am faced with the realization that I managed to morph into someone I hardly recognize…and only because I didn’t take the time to look (sadly, a decision I made to avoid seeing what I was doing to myself).  It was much easier focusing my time and efforts on solving other people’s problems.  I hid behind work and had neglected my own… clearly creating some additional issues along the way.

I am not saying that during the last 10 years of being a relentless workaholic did I not notice my expanding waistline or the fact that it was getting harder and harder to do some simple tasks.  Of course I noticed.  But what I did about it was not only ineffective, but was not geared toward fixing the problem, just addressing the symptoms.  I bought bigger clothes and I found easier ways to get things done when activities became difficult to do.  Walking to the store took too much out of me..I took the bus; walking up a flight of stairs made me winded…I would sneak on the elevator to go up one floor; walking around the mall to shop was inconvenient, I’d shop online.  These were simple changes with very large consequences.

Every once in a while I tried to properly address the problem of my weight and health.  I’d go to the gym, walk around the park, buy fresh fruits and vegetables instead of an easier to make frozen dinner, buy some expensive exercise equipment, set the alarm clock earlier to work out, opt for a salad instead of pizza, start a weight loss plan, etc.  And sure…some of these things worked, for a little while, but then I lost interest and then lost the time to do it….deciding that I’d rather spend that time finishing up another project.

It’s not that it wasn’t important.  I think now that maybe it was just too overwhelming and hard to stay focused and motivated enough to stick with it.

So now here I am…sitting in front of my computer, terrified that I put this off way too long.  I’ve decided to start this blog knowing that my track record indicates that I may fail and realizing that if I do fail this time, it could be for the last… and be in front of an audience.

But, as scary as this is for me…I am going to give it a shot and hopefully along the way I will run into some inspirational people who will support me in my journey.  Who knows, I may just find my way to my healthier self and one day inspire someone else to make a change!