The Impact of Words

Something has been in the back of my mind for a while.  It’s about the words that people say.  Words are funny things – they have different meanings depending on tone, different meanings depending on who says them, different meanings based on where the recipient is in their head.  What sounds perfectly reasonable to one person is completely irrational to someone else.  Is that right?  Not necessarily.  A speaker can’t be responsible for controlling where the recipient is in their head, but a speaker can be cognizant of the words they use and how they could be received.  On the flip side, a recipient may need to consider the underlying message or thought behind the words.  It’s up to both parties to be aware.

(from Pinterest)

(from Pinterest)

Words spoken in anger or disappointment can hurt – even if that’s not the intention.  Words spoken with the wrong tone can hurt.  Even words said sweetly can hurt if the words themselves aren’t right.  Words spoken with contradictory actions leave the recipient wondering what is true.  Actions speak louder than words, but actions are diminished if the words don’t match.

One of the things I am working on this year is patience.  For those who know me, patience is not one of my strengths.  I tend to want things done immediately and to the highest standard possible.  This is difficult for me to convey without being frustrated when things don’t happen the way I want them to.  Working on this is going to be a struggle – I know this.  Add in a busy schedule, two little kids with busy schedules, as well as the number of distractions that are in today’s society and you can see that being patient is larger than just taking the time to breathe or count to 10 or relax.

I am trying to be patient with my words and actions.  I am trying to consider the impact that my word choice and tone has on others.  I’m trying to pause in important conversations to seek the truly right word or phrase.  Too often, I speak before I think – or rather, I’ve thought, but my brain has moved on to the next thing and my mouth is trying to catch up.

I’m also trying to make sure my words and actions match.  I don’t want to send contradictory messages.  If I say I am going to do something, I’m going to do it.  I don’t want to over-commit, but I want to make sure I follow through on those things I have agreed to.

It’s daunting to think that the words you speak (or write) can influence more than just yourself.  Those words travel throughout time and space to impact those around you or those you don’t even know.  Take the time to consider your words.  I know I will.

A Refocus on My Journey

 

In January, I started a new way of life.  Nothing dramatic, but it was time for a change.  I decided that I was tired of the way I looked and felt.  I decided to become more active and to eat better.  I signed up for MyFitnessPal; I started a “Biggest Loser” type of competition at my local Y; and went on about my day.

 As I sit here at the beginning of month 8, I decided to look back at what I have done. 

  • Achievement 1 – Weight Loss – to date, I have lost about 30 pounds.  I’m not done yet, and it’s not coming off as fast as I would like, but that’s ok.  Am I eating better?  Mostly.  Can I do better?  Sure, but who wants to give up chocolate?
  • Achievement 2 – Running – to date, I have raced in 2 virtual 5k races and 3 other 5k races.  I am not the fastest runner, but I am working on it.  I will say this though, as much as I like the 5k races with other people, I really like the virtual races.  I don’t feel as much pressure that I am going to be the last one to cross the finish line.  I have at least 3 5k races, a 4-mile virtual race, a 10k, and a half-marathon planned for the next 3 months.
  • Achievement 3 – Weight Lifting – if you had asked me in January to lift weights, I would have headed straight to the machines and gone to work, but not challenged myself.  In April, I decided that I needed more of a challenge.  I poked around on some forums and other websites and found New Rules of Lifting for Women.  I started the program in May and am in the 2nd phase.  I have (mostly) enjoyed what I have learned while doing it.  In addition, I feel stronger and a bit braver…especially those days in which I am the only female in the free weight area.
  • Achievement 4 – Clothing – I have dropped 3-4 sizes since January, depending on the brand, style, and type of clothing.  This has to be one of my biggest complaints – garment manufacturers cannot seem to standardize their sizes.  On top of that, the classic size 8 is not the current size 8 (in my opinion anyway).

 What do I see for myself for the rest of this year?  Here are my goals:

  • Goal 1 – Weight Loss – lose another 10 pounds by the half-marathon, lose remaining weight by the end of the year (but NO LATER THAN March 1).
  • Goal 2 – Activity – stick with workouts.  I have found that it helps me to plan them out for each month.  Then I know what to expect and I can plan the rest of my day with certain expectations.  I also need to find something to train for.
  • Goal 3 – Weight Lifting – finish New Rules of Lifting for Women by the end of the year.  I should be able to accomplish that, unless my half-marathon training interferes too much.  After that program, I need to decide what I am going to do.  I may go back and start over, or I may decide to try something different.  Who knows?

This journey hasn’t been all sunshine and unicorns.  It’s been tough.  I’ve hit a few plateaus.  I’ve struggled with food choices.  There were days that I didn’t want to log everything I ate, but I did anyway.  I made myself accountable to the online friends I had; I made myself accountable to my husband and daughters; and most of all, I made myself accountable to me.  There are a few friends that have stuck with me since the beginning – with weekly weigh-ins that we text to each other, friends that listen to me whine and complain (and then help spur me on), friends that cheer me on when I run.  To them, I say

 thank you from the bottom of my heart.  I would have given up way before this without you.

The end of the Grandview Freedom Run Race (7/4/2012).

Without a doubt, this has been a hard journey (kind of like the race pictured above).  It’s not going to get easier.  I’m lucky that I have a supportive husband and two little girls who think it’s a lot of fun to “exercise” with Mommy on those days I decide a DVD is going to be the extent of my workout.  I’m lucky to have supportive friends.  I’m thankful for those people in cyber-land who run contests, who blog about their efforts, who are always willing to give information to newbies, and serve as inspiration.

As I refocus myself on the rest of the year and the activities I have coming up, I would like to say thank you.  Let’s keep supporting each other.

“Bittersweet Surrender” or “How Life Can Turn Things Around”

Carly hasn’t had it very easy the last few years.  She has undergone treatment for breast cancer (without insurance), her husband walked out, her best friend died, her dad died, her brother keeps hitting her up for money, her business’ financials are messed up (she runs a chocolate spa), and to top it all off, her stepmom has decided to move in with her.  Wow…I’m tired and worn out just looking at that list!

Even though she could let all of this get her down, she tries hard to focus on improving things.  She has hired her best friend’s husband (who is an accountant) to look at the books and straighten things out; she takes advantage of her stepmom moving in as a way to eat healthier; she survived breast cancer; and she has decided to stand up to her brother.

For a few months, she has been corresponding via email with her brother’s best friend from high school.  She had a crush on him in high school, but he was too cool for her.  Lucky for her, he is moving back with his teenage daughter.  That is her other reason for getting in shape and eating better.

However, nothing goes as it should.  The mystery of why Carly’s business is having problems is spread through the entire book, with an ending that is a surprise.  People Carly has relied upon for years turn out to be not so reliable, and things she thought she knew turn out not to be true.  But what I think hurts Carly the most is how those who are closest to her have ended up letting her down over the last few years.  She has to find the strength within herself to move beyond her past and her current struggles and find happiness.

This book was provided as part of the Booksneeze program, in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

My “Farewell to Fat” Tour Continues…

Maid Rite (from the Marion, IA restaurant)

I’m a fan of cheap, kitschy restaurants that serve greasy food.  Yep, I know it’s not good for my heart, but they are still good.  There’s just something about a local greasy spoon restaurant that makes me happy.  And if I can get fried vegetables there and eat outside, even better.

 

If you know me, you know that I can be found about once a week at a local restaurant called El Allende.  They have the best Mexican food in town (really – no lie).  The problem is that their tacos, while delicious and filling, can be sooo greasy.  So invariably, while I enjoy my meal while I eat it, I spend the rest of the afternoon in a taco-induced coma regretting that last bite because I am so full.

As part of my “Farewell to Fat Tour”, I am visiting my favorite local restaurants one last time over lunch.  I am also allowing myself to eat whatever snacks I want.  But I am paying the price.  I can literally feel my body screaming out in protest.  Have you ever gone to a really restaurant, had a good meal, and later you could feel your arteries hardening or your liver screaming at you?  That’s me right now.

Why am I allowing myself to do this?  Here’s part of my thinking….if I can eat my fill of the stuff I know I will crave once the diet starts, then I won’t want it later.  I had a friend who decided to quit smoking once.  She decided she was going to smoke until she couldn’t smoke anymore.  Basically, she was going to chain smoke until her body rebelled and even the thought of smoking turned her stomach.  In a way, I am doing the same thing.  Yeah, it probably doesn’t make much sense, but I have burned myself out on restaurants and foods before (Mac & Cheese, I’m talking to you), and I’m hoping for the same thing now.

I’m not being completely stupid about it.  It’s not like I am on a 3 week binge where I am eating every waking moment.  I’m just eating those things I want and those things I know I will miss. 

I know that this weight loss program is only going to work if I give things up.  If that means no more El Allende tacos, then that’s the way it has to be.  If that means that I allow myself Cheri-Top drive-in once over the course of the summer, then so be it.  If it means I can’t darken Maid-Rite’s door, then farewell to a Muscatine institution.  Will I miss them?  Probably.  But this has gone on too long and my body is paying for it, my sanity is paying for it, my wallet is paying for it, and IT IS GOING TO STOP.

So I am asking for my body’s forgiveness as I go through my own mourning process.  Mourning the loss of foods that I like, but that I know are not healthy;  mourning the lack of grease; mourning the loss of atmosphere.

So long……

My Pants are Going to Stage a Walk-out

A few weeks ago, I decided to put together a team for a local weight loss competition. I found 3 other people who are all motivated to lose weight. A few of us decided that during December, we weren’t really going to worry about watching what we eat, working out, etc. We were just going to live and eat what we wanted. It’s not like I am going on an eating binge and eating all of my favorite foods that I know I won’t be able to eat once the competition starts, but I kind of am.

I haven’t been too worried about my health. Sure, my family has a history of heart disease, blood pressure issues, strokes, heart attacks, and cancer. (Ok, so that list sounds REALLY BAD.) But I wasn’t going to let myself stress over it – December is stressful enough.

But here’s the thing. As I go on my “farewell tour” of my favorite foods and restaurants, I have begun to realize that they don’t all taste as good as I want them to. I know this is a good thing, but I guess I wasn’t expecting it. It’s like I can hear my body say “Enough is ENOUGH!….Fix us already!!” (Ok, and I also hear my pants saying that they can’t take it anymore….one of these days, they are going to stage a walk-out and I will be stuck wearing track pants to work.)

So on January 3, I start a new journey. One I have tried before. One I have failed before. What will be different this time? Me. It comes down to me. It doesn’t matter that my husband is super supportive. It doesn’t matter that I will be cheering my other team members on (because I will). It matters that I want to do it. That I am tired of being out of breath. That I am tired of not fitting into clothes. That I am tired of seeing large numbers on the tags of my clothes. That I am tired of not wearing the clothes I think are cute because they don’t look right on me.

By the time I go to Tennessee in May, I want to have run a 5K and be signed up for another. I want to be in a smaller size of clothes. I want to crave healthy food, not crap. I want to know that I can eat things I like (popcorn, chocolate, and Pepsi – I’m talking to you!) in moderation and without feeling guilty about it later. I want my sister-in-law and her family to ask my husband when he got a new wife. I want my daughters to be proud of me.

I want to live. I want to be me.

“The House at Tyneford” – A Story About Life Continuing On, No Matter What

I am very interested in World War II-era stories, especially stores of those affected by the Holocaust.  This book starts at the beginning of WW2 in Vienna.  Elise and her family have a good life in Austria .  Her father is a novelist, her mother is a musician.  The problem is that they are Jewish.  The family is trying to get everyone out of the country, but they are having problems getting visas.  Elise is able to leave the country because she is being sponsored by an English family to come and work as a house servant.  Being the youngest in the family, it’s hard for her to leave, but she does so with the understanding that her family will send for her when they get to America.

Elise has never truly worked.  Everything has always been done for her, so when she arrives in England at Tyneford, she is in for a rude awakening.  Housemaids work from before dawn to after dark.  There is never a moment’s peace.  And it’s even harder when you don’t speak very good English.  Luckily, the squire (Mr. Rivers) is a kind man and has read Elise’s father’s books.  Kit Rivers, the squire’s son, is not around much, but when he is, it brings life to the house.

Elise has to work through a number of things – learning English, being away from her family, seeking information on her family, as well as just adjusting to a different way of life.  She is a source of suspicion from those who visit the house, a source of frustration to the head butler and housekeeper, and a curiosity of sorts for the villagers, Mr. Rivers, and Kit Rivers.

The novel follows Elise’s life throughout her time in England.  I found it interesting to read about what her life was like as a Jew in England and how much faith it took to continue to exist while her family was in such dire straits.  Her relationships with the Rivers men are interesting, if unsurprising.  My heart ached for her – wanting to know what was going on with her family, trying to find her way in England, and yet dreading the information that could come at any time.  But each day, she got up and continued on with her duties and responsibilities, knowing that she is trying to make her parents proud.

One thing I found a little distracting was the fact that Elise doesn’t refer to her parents as Mom and Dad, it’s Anna and Julian.  Maybe that’s because they were such public persons and she didn’t relate to them as Mom and Dad.  But it was something to get used to.

I really liked this book and would definitely recommend it.

I received this book from the publisher through NetGalley.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

“The Wedding Quilt” – Drawing to a Close?

"The Wedding Quilt" by Jennifer Chiaverini

In Jennifer Chiaverini’s The Wedding Quilt, the story of the Elm Creek Quilters seems to be coming to a close.  This is a wonderful series, of which I have read almost every book.  The story begins with the invitation to Sarah and Matt’s daughter Caroline’s wedding – about 20 years after the last book was set.  As Sarah waits for her daughter to arrive at Elm Creek Manor, she remembers the day Caroline and her twin brother James were born.

This pattern continues throughout the book.  The current wedding story line is interwoven with stories from the past.  It is a good way for readers of the series to catch up with their favorite quilters with glimpses into their lives for the last 20 years. Readers are also able to learn some items that we didn’t know – for example, how active Agnes was in the community and why she had attached herself so deeply to Waterford.

There’s a little bit of drama throughout the book, in various story lines, that keeps the book moving.  There’s also sadness.  I came to the conclusion about 1/3 of the way through that this was probably the end of a series I really liked.  According to Jennifer’s website, this is not the last book in the series – that there is probably 1 more book to go.   Even with the feeling that it was drawing to a close, I enjoyed this book.  It brought closure to several story lines from other books, and it’s a nice book-end to the first book, when Sarah arrives at Elm Creek Manor to work for Sylvia.  I wonder where she will take the quilters next and who the next generation of Elm Creek Quilters will be?

Amazon Product Page

I received this book from the publisher through the NetGalley program.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.