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.

I am Determined…

I kind of look like a dork, but it’s my new personal best!

I’m a new runner.  I only started running about 6 months ago.  Since then, I have completed a couple of local 5ks, several virtual races, and gradually increased my mileage.  I’m not the fastest runner, but I try hard and I am learning.

The last 2 months have been difficult for training.  Between the heat, other activities, and several injuries/sore muscles, sometimes it’s hard to get the mileage that I want to get.  Especially since I am training for a half-marathon in October.

My biggest problem is pushing too hard, too fast.  It usually means I will end up hurting something.  That usually means I am out of running commission for a while.  For me, that’s hard.  I want to do my best and I want to be out running.  I can’t improve if I can’t get out there, right?

The last week or so, I have been battling a knee injury.  I’ve done something to it…probably a strain.  I figured something was wrong when I tried to do an 8 mile training run on Sunday and only made it ¾ of a mile…and even that was a struggle.

So why is this a problem?  Some people may say: “Just stop running.”  “Just ride a bike.”  “Just don’t do it.”  The issue is that I need to keep running.  I can’t do my half-marathon on a bike.  I can’t continue to improve my lifestyle without activity like this.  Running has helped me in so many ways.  It’s improved my health, it’s helped me lose weight, it’s made me stronger.

The result of my injury is that tomorrow, I will have my first DID NOT START (DNS) for a race I signed up for.  It makes me sad to do this.  Until this morning, I thought I was at least going to see if they would let me switch from the 10k to the 5k, because I can at least walk the 5k (they don’t allow walkers in the 10k).  But the knee is just not cooperating and it’s telling me I need to rest it some more.  I wanted to do this race – it was going to be my longest race to date and I wanted to put some more points on the board for the local Grand Prix competition (I’m currently in 4th place for my age group – yippee!).

While this is upsetting, I just have to keep my half-marathon in the back of my mind.  That race needs to be my priority.  It’s important to me.  It’s with my niece, and it will be our first half.  Vacation time has been requested and approved; the race has been paid for; plans are set.  The only thing that will keep me from running that race is if a doctor says I can’t.  Otherwise, I will be at that starting line with her on October 6th, race bib on, and ready to go.  I don’t care if I run/walk, run, or crawl, but I will be in that race.

 I am determined.

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.

“Confessions from an Arranged Marriage”

I will admit, when I picked up this book, I figured that “arranged marriage” meant that they had been intended for each other since birth.  A few pages in, and I realized that wasn’t the case.

Then I thought, “Ok, maybe she secretly loves him and will trap him into a marriage.”  Again….not the case.

So then I decided to just go along for the ride and stop trying to predict how the book was going to go.  I’m glad I did.

Minerva doesn’t like the Marquess of Blakeney.  In fact, he is treated kind of as a laughingstock by her.  He was previously engaged to her sister, and she was subjected to unending stories about horses and hunting.  After the engagement failed, he left London for a few years.  They become reacquainted at her coming out ball, which is being held at his parents’ house, due to the close relationship between the families.

However, things don’t go according to plan.  Partway through the night, Minerva has a migraine, takes some medicine, and lays down in the library.  An intoxicated Blakeney decides to play a trick on a friend, and thinks that Minerva is someone else when he begins to seduce her.  Minerva wakes up as an audience appears in the library door. This means that the incident can’t be hidden and the two are forced to marry.

For Minerva, this is worrisome.  She doesn’t know Blakeney well, but her impression is that he is lazy and probably not very smart, even though he graduated from college.  Blakeney doesn’t think much of Minerva, especially since she is passionate about politics, which is one thing his family does well – even though he doesn’t have any interest in it.

However much these two individuals don’t see eye to eye, they must learn how to live together and create some sort of relationship.  Add the following to the mix – a “best friend” who seems a little slimy and untrustworthy, the death of a father, spies, secrets that have been hidden since school, and families who don’t trust the new spouse – and you get an interesting story that brings you in to the characters’ lives so you feel like you are there with them.  That makes for a good story.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“The House at the End of Ladybug Lane” – A Lesson in Acceptance

Elise Primavera’s book The House at the End of Ladybug Lane is a delightful story of a young lady named Angelina who can’t help but get dirty and be messy.  Her parents are neat freaks, and a child doesn’t really fit their “neat” world.

One night, Angelina makes a wish, and a ladybug godmother appears.  However, there’s a problem…she’s slightly hard of hearing.  “I want a pet” becomes “I want a pest” and poof – there’s a pest in the house.  A pest that bakes the most delicious deserts, but a pest nonetheless.  On throughout the night Angelina tries to make herself understood, but the godmother just can’t get it right.

The results are quite astonishing, and the illustrations (by Valeria Docampo) are phenomenal.  My daughter liked picking out all of the little details (finding the ladybug, the pest, seeing what had happened, etc.).

The story boils down to how the expectations of the parents, while good-intentioned and well-meaning, may not fit the personality of the child.  The child may be doing their best to comply, but just can’t seem to get it right.  Rather than continually criticize the child, or be frustrated because they don’t meet the parents’ expectations, maybe the expectations should change to suit the child.

I received this book from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

“The Shadow of Your Smile” and How Important Are Your Memories?

I have read some of Susan May Warren’s books before and liked them.  “The Shadow of Your Smile” is one of her Deep Haven novels, which luckily for me, can be read independently and still understand the stories.  Noelle and Eli have been married for 25 years.  They had 3 children, one of whom died in a robbery 3 years prior to this book taking place.  Ever since then, their marriage has struggled…as Noelle buried herself in grief, Eli buried himself in fishing, hunting, anything to take him away from their house.

On a wintery day, Noelle is on her way home from a mysterious meeting.  She stops at a shop for a coffee and while she is there, interrupts a robbery where the cashier dies.  As she is running out the door to catch a passing trucker, she falls, hits her head, and is knocked unconscious.  When she comes to in the hospital, she has lost 25 years of her life.  She doesn’t recognize Eli, her sons, her best friend, her home.

What ensues is a journey for Noelle and Eli.  A journey back to why they got married in the first place.  A journey to work through their grief of losing their daughter…this time as a family.  A journey to re-discover what is important to them and what they each may have given up as they moved through life together.

A question (in various forms) appears throughout the book – “Should Noelle get her memory back?”  Does Noelle need to regain all 25 years of memories in order to move forward with her life?  Does Eli want Noelle to regain those memories?  If those memories return, what happens to the relationship they have built since she lost them?

How important are memories as you go through life?

I received this book through the NetGalley system.  I was not required to write a positive 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.

“House of Secrets” by Tracie Peterson

Bailee Cooper has been the “mother” of her family since her mom died when she was young.  She has always felt responsible for her younger sisters, and has put her life on hold/reorganized her life to ensure that she is available to her sisters.  Her dad has not been much help, other than paying for things – education, clothing, homes, etc.  To a certain extent, her younger sisters have also resented her actions/interference in their lives, but have dealt with it because she takes care of everything.

Bailee is offered a promotion at her job where she has been a freelance editor for a number of years.  Her boss, Mark Delahunt, wants her to be independent for once.  Over the years, he has become her friend, no matter the walls she erects…and has begun to care for her.  Bailee is fighting her desire for the position because of her responsibility to her sisters.

Out of the blue, Bailee’s dad summons her and her sisters to their summer house in Washington state.  Not only is this unusual because her dad wants to spend time with them, but also because the sense of their mother is so strong in this house.  The girls have often believed their father had a hand in their mother’s death, but have never confronted him about it.  At the beginning of their vacation, they decide to confront their father with their beliefs – to make him answer to them.

However, nothing goes as planned.  What they imagined as true is false.  What they remember as dreams are reality.  How they perceive their father (and themselves) is not necessarily the truth.  This book is about walls being torn down, people accepting others for what they are, and people accepting themselves for what they are – not what they think others need them to be.

This book is beautifully written and there are twists and turns throughout.  My heart broke for Bailee and her sisters, and the impact that secrets have had on this family.  Through their relationships with God, they will find their way.

I received a copy of this book from Bethany House Publishers.  I was not required to write a positive review.  All opinions are my own.

What I am Thankful For – Day 8

This may be trite, but today I am thankful for the right to vote.  I am grateful for those who fought for a woman’s right to vote.  I am thankful for those who died to keep our country free, and allow me the opportunity to continue to vote each year.

I voted today in my local election.  I try to educate myself as much as possible on the issues, and then I cast my votes accordingly.  I have voted in almost every election – even voting absentee when living out of state with the Army.

It is a right and a privilege to be able to influence local issues and to show my support for candidates that I can trust to make the correct decision for my community.  It is the only way politicians know what the electorate really wants.

Did you vote today?