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.

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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.

Pope Benedict on Lent and Renewing My Faith

Quote

Lent is a time to renew our journey of faith, both as individuals and as a community, with the help of the word of God and the sacraments.
-Pope Benedict XVI

I know this is a little late, with Lent ending today, but I was going through some old email and came across this quote.  While Lent offers the opportunity to renew our faith, especially with new members coming into the church on Easter Vigil, the renewal of one’s faith shouldn’t be confined to one 40-day period of the year.

To me, renewing my faith is a continual process.  I am always trying to learn more about my religion and deepen my faith in God.  There is just so much I feel I don’t know.  I want to understand, and in order for me to grow in my faith, I need to continually seek out answers to my questions.  Luckily, my parish is blessed with 2 priests and a religious sister who are available to answer questions.

A community of believers plays a huge part in renewing and deepening one’s faith.  Those fellow believers allow you to have support when you doubt, strength when you fall, and prayer when you struggle.  I am lucky that I have several friends who are also “seekers” in their faith journey, and they are also available to answer questions, or to hold my hand as I try new(ish) experiences.

For me, knowing that the Mass has been celebrated for the last 2,000 years, and that it is in mostly the same format throughout the world each Sunday helps me to strengthen my connections to other believers.  Knowing that there is a body of Catholics celebrating the same sacraments I do gives me a sense of continuity to the earliest Christians.

I am trying better to live by Christ’s example and to follow the teachings of my Church.  There were too many years when I was away from the Church, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.  I don’t necessarily like who I became during those years, so my challenge is to bring myself back to where I was – and I can do that by renewing my faith each day.

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.

This President Had it Right…

Quote

“Let every man, every corporation, and especially let every village, town, and city, every county and State, get out of debt and keep out of debt. It is the debtor that is ruined by hard times.” – Rutherford B Hayes, US President

As someone who is trying to get out of debt and stay out of debt, it’s nice to see a government official, albeit one from the 1800s, who recognizes that debt is a burden not easily lifted, and that government debt is not a good thing.

I wonder who the Dave Ramsey of his day was?

Can You Help Me Get Better?

A few weeks ago, Jon Acuff posted about his experience rehearsing for the Quitter conference he had coming up (http://www.jonacuff.com/blog/who-likes-you-enough-to-help-you-get-better/).  In the post, he discussed how he asked someone to critique his presentation.  He discusses how someone providing you with honest feedback on how to improve your work product is better than the customary pat on the back.

Everyone likes to think they have done a great job on a project.  They want that pat on the back.  They don’t want to hear that something they have spent hours completing is flawed in anyway.  Feedback is tough.  But I think that by opening yourself up to receiving feedback in a constructive manner, and honestly soliciting quality feedback is a great way to improve.

I have a full-time job where I spend a lot of time writing.  It’s something that I love to do.  But I’ll be honest, as much as I love learning different things about my company – things that not a lot of other people learn about – sometimes the writing can be kind of dry.  So I try my best to find ways to take very intense, complicated topics and make them simpler.  I am able to do this because those I work for are patient and able to explain the topics in a way that I can glean information out of them for everyone else.  I also do a lot of research so that I can figure it out on my own.  But I’m not perfect, nor am I the expert.

Sometimes I get it wrong.  Words are tricky things.  It’s so easy to change the meaning of something by changing just a few words.  It’s easy to oversimplify something to the point that it doesn’t make any sense.  Some people who look at my work are really good about offering suggestions to improve the writing.  Others don’t provide any feedback – their silence is the tacit approval of what I have written for them.  I would much rather have someone read my writing and help me to understand how to make it better than to continue to produce work that is sub-par.

Writing this blog is a way for me to improve my writing.  So I am asking for your help.  As you read the postings on my blog, I ask that you provide feedback.  The posts all have ranking buttons at the bottom – feel free to use them.  All posts have a comment feature – feel free to leave feedback.  What do you like about my writing?  What don’t you write about my writing?