A Letter to My Mom

My last post was about reflection.  I certainly have been doing a lot of that these past few years.  For example, have you ever heard the phrase, “you don’t know what you have until it’s gone”?  Pretty common, right? I agree.  But I’ve really come to understand that phrase.  The loss I am referring to is the loss of loved ones.

When I was younger, I always thought there would be time.  Specifically, time to reconnect with people ‘later’, when I am not so busy.  When I am not so tired. But that is a lie.  There isn’t always more time.  It’s an illusion.  All of a sudden you realize the people you love are slipping through your fingers.  For me it started on today’s date in 1979 when I was not quite 13.  I lost my mom.  Here is a letter I wrote to my mom a few years ago. I thought today would be a good day to re-post it.

Mom and Aunt Bev

Mom & Aunt Bev (high school)

Dear Mom:

It’s been a long time since we’ve talked. 35 years.  I still remember that warm, August night in 1979. I remember Keith walking in (though he should have been at work…a bad sign) and saying, “Mom’s gone.” Although I understood the meanings of those two words individually, when my brother linked them together, their meaning escaped me. “Gone?”, I asked. How was a girl not yet 13 supposed to accept that her mom has just died? I knew you were in the hospital because you were sick. But seriously, you were never coming back? You were my mom. Moms come back. But you didn’t. I felt so guilty not having talked to you on the phone that day to tell you I love you. I was busying playing. I figured I could call you the next day. But there was no next day. If only there was a way for us to know when we have reached our last “next day”.

I didn’t understand everything you were going through in the hospital. I thought it was just the illness. Emphysema was serious, I knew. But I had no idea of the other struggles you had. The struggle to not be afraid all of the time. The struggle with depression. The struggle to just exist and blend with society. All of this was too much for you. You were mentally and physically exhausted. I will never have all of the facts to determine exactly what went through your mind. I was only told you gave up. You needed to just let go so you stopped fighting to live. I understand now that that you saw it as your only option.

But at the time, I only saw you stopping the fight to be my mom. When you let go you let go of me, too. And I fell. I landed in a house that didn’t feel like a home.  Not for me. It was cold and lonely.  It was clear that it would be better if I were just a visitor rather than a permanent resident. But that is another story. Back to our story.

For a long time, even though I missed you terribly, I was angry. Angry that you left me. Angry that you abandoned me. Once I was in my 20s I started asking questions.  I learned through conversations with your sister and my cousins where you really were back then; Not physically, but mentally and emotionally. I felt guilty all over again. This time I felt guilty for being angry.

I learned that much of our family, by this time, was suffering with varying degrees of depression and taking meds. Sure, now you can’t turn on the TV and not see a commercial for a prescription med that treats depression. But in 1979 it wasn’t so acceptable and well-known. It breaks my heart to think that maybe you felt lonely because you were different? Maybe you felt like you were crazy?  Maybe you felt like you couldn’t be my mom because you were different?

I started researching mental illness and depression. I talked with professionals. I took several Psychology classes. I read a lot. It made me so sad to think that you were so lost in your own mind and couldn’t break free. I want you to know that I understand now. I’m sorry it took me so long to get it but I do. I do get it. Your battle was bigger than any of us knew. I still miss you terribly. But I am not angry. I don’t feel abandoned and I am not lonely. I want you to know that I do not suffer from depression. I have bad days like everyone does, but I do okay. I rely on God. Prayer combats the bad days.

Mom, I know you loved me. I felt it. You made me a better mom.  I miss you so much. Every. Single. Day.

Write back soon.

Love,

Judy

 

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Mirror, Mirror…It’s Reflection Time

Closing in on 50 helped me to really come to terms with the difference between regret and reflection.   Both cause us to look backwards.  Both require us to contemplate a bit about what we’re seeing in that rearview mirror.  But the similarities end there because the reason we choose one way or the other and the end results are not the same.

Over the years, I have had regrets.  More than a few times I have wished I’d have done, said, or chosen something (or someone) different. I’ve wasted a lot of time asking the classic question: What if? But I never got the answer to that question. Never.  Not once, no matter how many times I asked it.  In fact. the more I asked that question, the more I felt self-blame followed by self-punishment.

I’ve concluded that the reason I always ended up feeling that way was because I, like possibly many of you, always assumed that the other choice was better.  But that isn’t necessarily true.  There is no way to know if, in the long run, things would be better on another path.  Even on a different path, I would still have done things like make mistakes, hurt someone and been hurt by someone, and I would have still, from time-to-time, wondered about a choice I didn’t make.  What’s safe to say is that the path not taken would be different.

Wondering about what might have been no longer makes me sad.  I realize now that no amount of wondering or fantasizing about an alternate life is going to change the past.  Life isn’t a movie in which the leading character, after a bump on the head, gets a glimpse of how their life might have turned out with option B then wakes up feeling confident they made the right choice.  Life doesn’t work that way.  And I don’t need it to.

Reflecting is my choice these days. I do look back and occasionally wonder a little.    But I don’t fall into the darkness of feeling as if I missed out on something because I don’t know that I have missed anything.  Nowadays, I use reflection more as a tool to plan for the future.  I know that might sound crazy.  But a lot of what I have going on now and planned for the future is based on this question: What have I always wanted to do?  And that answer lies in reflection, not regret.

I am happy with who I am today. I am a work in progress.  We all are. I am who I am today because of the choices I made.  Good or bad, I own that fact.  I am constantly learning and changing and moving forward. I hope you are, too.

In Romans 8:28, we are told “God works all things together for the good of those who love him and have been called according to His purpose.”  That means that everything will work out.   All we can do is do our best and trust that God stiches it all together and gets us back on track, even if we’ve slightly changed the course.

Today’s take away: choose reflection…not regret.

Judy

Fitness goals at 50

My father once told me, many years ago, that we enter into our next year of life, basically, the day after our birthday.  So, for example, last October I celebrated my 50th birthday. But, I entered into my 50th year the day after my 49th birthday.  He was always sharing interesting things like that.

Since entering into my 50th year, a lot of things have come into focus for me.  And, boy, am I ever grateful.  One of these things has been that age is just number.  I’ve heard that before, but I was really starting to get it.  I guess that happen when you arrive at a certain point in life.  Apparently, I had arrived.

I began to realized what was really important and what I could finally let go of.  One of the things that has become important, consistently, is my health.  I have started and stopped healthy eating plans, bought multiple workout programs from late-night infomercials, and purchased and quit gym memberships throughout my adult life.

But now, something is different.  I think it’s different because this time, it really is about my health.  The goal is not my physical appearance. Any physical changes that come along with it are bonuses, not the focus. It is easier to keep to the plan because my well-being is MY well-being.  I’m not competing with anyone.

I’ve recently made the commitment to myself that Tuesday evenings are gym evenings.  I go straight to the gym after work.  But I forgot my gym bag today.  During the day, I found myself thinking I would probably not make it to the gym tonight because I can’t go straight there.  Then it hit me:  WHY can’t I go?  Am I not allowed to go back out?  The only thing stopping me from going to the gym was me.  And I control me.  Control.  That is another amazing thing I’ve discovered upon entering this new life season.

So, after a wardrobe change, I was out the door and headed to the gym!

The workout was great and I even got in some extra ab reps since I will not be at the gym tomorrow.  Wednesday and Thursday evenings are flexible because of other commitments.  I’ve learned I have to be willing to accept flexibility if I expect the pieces of my life to fit together somehow.

My Fabulous Over 50 journey has many goals.  This fitness goal is only one.  It’s not the grandest ever pursued, but it’s a big one for me.

I want to, no, I need to, lose a total of 49 lbs.  I know that sounds specific, and it is.  So far, I’ve lost 20 lbs. Yeay!  I started to lose a little momentum so I am back at it.  My other numbers (A1C, cholesterol, etc.) are reflecting it.

Who knew that eating healthy, drinking water, and moving your body really does make a positive impact on one’s overall health?  😉

Age is just a number.  True words.

Until next week…

Judy

Making progress

My progress is coming along nicely.  I’ve met with a Diabetic Educator and learned some amazing things.  For example, I had cut my carbs back because of the diagnosis.  But as it turns out, I was taking in too FEW carbs. I didn’t see that coming!  Now I wish I had met with Carolyn sooner.  I put it off because, as I went through my mourning stage (mourning the death of my old life), I didn’t want to hear any additional gloomy talk such as, “don’t even so much as glance at a carb or your blood glucose will shoot through the roof!”  So I spent the initial few months educating myself.  I read blogs and books.  I talked with people close to me at various stages of this journey.  I began monitoring my blood glucose daily and keeping track of spikes and matching them with particular eating habits.  I also started walking a few times a week for at least 30 minutes.  Then I made the appointment.  I wanted to be able to show that I was making a positive attempt at changing my life.

Carolyn taught me that I needed to increase the amount of carbs because they are the body’s main source of energy and equally important, my brain needs carbs.  I was feeling tired prior to the appointment and thought it was my sugar levels.  But it was because I did not have enough energy.  She was pleased with my blood glucose numbers, too.  She gave me a range to aim for when testing first thing in the morning and one for the rest of the day, two hours after meals and at bedtime.  I was concerned about getting within the morning range because I had been just outside of it prior.  But she was confident I’d make it.  And I did – starting with the next day.

Carolyn said that my weight loss was contributing to my lower glucose numbers, too.     She created a plan for me that outlines a daily, healthy amount of carbs, protein and fats.  She also took into account my weight loss goal (37 pounds left to lose by October 26th) and adjusted the number of carbs to help me stay on track for that.  The weight is coming off at a slow, healthy rate. I’ve lost a total of 15 pounds at this point.

I left her office feeling so empowered.  I have more tools to make healthy decisions. In hindsight, I could have eliminated most of my anxiety by staying better in touch with my doctor and reaching out sooner to the Diabetic Educator.  Being diagnosed was scary but trusting God and the medical professionals is the best way to get a handle on any health issue.

 

Until next time….

 

 

 

Good morning! For several weeks now, I have been diligent in monitoring my glucose.  Admittedly I have been slacking a little with writing the numbers down, but I have been tracking it.  And, except for just a few times, my glucose has been in-check.  I have also started walking whenever I have a chance: during lunch, after work, and weekends.

This is all starting to pay off because as of last week, I have lost 12 lbs! For me, that is a huge win.  I had noticed a few pieces of clothing feeling looser but it never dawned on me that the reason was I had lost a little weight.  I never thought that because I just don’t lose weight.  Well that has changed, my friends.  That means only 37 more pounds to go before October 26th!!  Woot! Woot!

Over this past weekend, I received a letter from my doctor’s office saying it is time for my next check-up.  They reminded me how dangerous it is for Diabetes to go unmonitored. They mentioned the loss of limbs and eyesight. 

I started to feel scared when I read that letter.  Then I remembered that, although I am not perfect, I have done a lot better than what I had been doing that brought me to this point.  I’m watching the types of carbs, amount, and time-of-day they are consumed.  Walking. Checking my glucose.

When I was first diagnosed, I was scared.  And I was angry about this.  I wasn’t angry at my doctor.  I was angry at ME.  I knew better but chose to not be careful.  I chose.  Made a choice.  Well, I can make another choice and Diabetes doesn’t have to define me. 

That’s when I started checking and watching and walking.  I can tell when I have made a bad carb choice or ate too late in the evening.  No only does my glucose spike, but I now make the correlation between what I eat and how my body feels.  I feel bloated, tired and my ankle hurts (doctor said it’s probably nerve damage; feels like a ‘sprain’).  When I eat better and walk almost daily, I feel good.  No brainer, right?  Still, I slip some days. But the key is being aware.  Even though Diabetes is referred to as ‘the silent killer’, you can feel some things. Pay attention to your body.

Have you had the light bulb go off in your head, too?  Finally getting the phrase, “you are what you eat”?  Please share anything that has helped you stay on track or get back on track when you’ve strayed. 

Thanks for reading.  Until next time.

 

 

New car syndrom

Have you ever purchased a new car and then suddenly started noticing that same car in the same color everywhere?  That’s sort of what I am experience recently with Diabetes.  I am finding there are more people with Diabetes around me than I realized.  I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised since there are about 29.1  million people with Type II Diabetes in the U.S. (cdc.gov., 2014). I am just a little surprised to learn how many of them I know!  Some of the folks are very positive and share great tips on how they are managing their lives.  Others are a little less successful and I am able to offer them encouragement.  I love being in the position to help. 

Last week I found myself taking with a co-worker that also has Diabetes.  We were talking rather jokingly about this transition and I stated that sometimes I am still not making the best choices and my numbers reflect my choices.  On the way home, I was thinking about the conversation. My friend and I had some laughs, but then I thought, what I need to be hyper aware of is the fact that joking about ‘falling off the wagon’ is a slippery slope.  It does happen but it doesn’t have to and it can’t happen frequently.

I’m not trying to be negative.  I just want to be careful about crossing the line between joking about slipping up with too many carbs and accepting this as okay.  I encourage you, too, to be careful if you have been diagnosed with Type II Diabetes.  I think what causes us to cross that line is that we don’t initially feel any different.  Most of the symptoms are silent until it’s too late.

 If you  have Type II Diabetes, what are some of the struggles you had when first diagnosed?  Do you have tips for staying ON the wagon?  Please share!! 🙂

 

 

Fit and Fabulous by 50: Let’s get started!

Fit and fabulous by 50?  Is it possible?  I have a little over 6 months until I turn 50 so I am counting on it being possible.  My goal is to lose 43 pounds.  That is an average of 7 pounds a month.  That’s realistic if I am serious about my goal.  And I am serious.  My goal is not appearance driven.  It is health driven.  And all of my research and conversations with my doctor tell me losing weight is a great way to begin being healthy on the inside.  It will result in a physical change, too.  But that’s just a bonus, not the goal.

In January I was flagged with Type II Diabetes.  It is hereditary (more so than Type I, according to my doctor) but I am sure that my life-long habits of poor eating and hit-or-miss exercise didn’t help my current health situation.  Otherwise, I wouldn’t be almost 50 pounds overweight.  The diagnosis scared me.  The way I saw it, there were a few ways to look at it.  The outlook I chose was to accept my part in the diagnosis and then do what I can to change the outcome of my future. 

That brings us to today.  Although I have already begun taking steps to reach my goal, today I have decided to create a blog to share my journey.  Today is Sunday, April 10th.  There are about 26 weeks until my birthday.  This seems like an appropriate day to start then since my birthday is the 26th of October. 

I will share my progress and my struggles on this blog.  I will also share what I learn on this journey such as Diabetes-friendly recipes and what workouts are producing the best results for me.  This blog will provide me a certain amount of structure and accountability.  I’m finding I need that.  But more than that, I hope my journey serves others who are also at this point in life and find themselves facing similar changes.  I have several people in my close circle that I now know are diagnosed with Type II Diabetes and have similar health issues as I do.  Let’s take control of our health together.  It IS possible.

Until next week…….