Simply Put . . .

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It has been a long while since I blogged.  There is a good reason for that.

I started this blog when a friend insisted that I share my journey – express my life lessons – bare my heart.

We never stop learning, and I had a few more lessons come along like waves beating against the crags.  It took all of my energy to stay upright, but I am upright!

The lessons I learned in the past 6 months have been the most valuable, and I can sum them up in a few short sentences:

Life never stops happening.

Not everyone is going to like me – no matter how hard I try, and

Today is the best place I have ever been.

I’ve started a half-dozen different posts, but my heart wasn’t in it.  I could continue talking about sadness, loneliness, divorce, illness, but I am not going to anymore.  I have nothing life-changing or profound left to write, and my story has become trite, at least to me.  Yes, I have had to be strong, resilient, resourceful and optimistic, but who cannot say the same thing?

I once believed that I had to do great things for my life to have purpose and it was necessary to wear the heartaches and hardships on my sleeve so I could help others, and although I do believe I have encouraged a few, everyone has their own lessons to learn.  Our life experiences are so different but yet so very much the same.

For my life to have purpose, I must judge not, love deeply,  laugh loudly,  and not be afraid to die.   I’m there.

In the future, I will write more about simple things, like enjoying my granddaughter, raising a dog, going to work, falling in love, directing a radio play, turning 60, dwelling in the mountains, and being me.

I turn 60 this month.  Did you know that 60 is the new 40?  Be prepared.  I might shock you all!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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The Sky is Falling!!

The Sky is Falling . . . NOW!

The Sky is Falling . . . NOW!

The sky is falling, the sky is falling, the sky is falling . . . NOW!

Hush, Chicken Little!  The sky never falls!

Well, almost never . . .

Detroit Michigan, 2004.  WDWO TV-18 was in the spotlight for a live program that would be broadcast around the world and in millions of households in the United States, and it was my job, as station manager, to make this happen.

I had produced enough programs to know that in order to be successful at bringing a quality program, I needed a studio audience, talent, singers, topics of interest and a speaker with recognition. Never shirking from a challenge, I went to work.  If I remember correctly, I had about 6 weeks to pull this 3-hour live program together.

I trust that all of my current and former employers would agree that “Subordinate” is my middle name.  I aim to make everyone happy, so when the president of the network called and said he wanted this one preacher man to be the guest speaker, I went to work to make it happen.  This gentleman was a very high-profile minister, a Bishop, in fact.  I had never met him, but had heard enough to know this would not be an easy scouting expedition.
Getting an appointment with any bishop in Detroit was a challenge made even more difficult because for one, I was a woman without the “covering” of a man, and secondly, I held a position of authority, and this should be reserved for men only. I had much to overcome, not to mention that not everyone has appreciation for Christian television.

The first step in the right direction was to become acquainted with the secretary of this Man of God. I made lunch dates, sent flowers, attended the church and finally garnered an appointment.
Meeting Bishop was nerve-wracking, and intimidating. I knew immediately he did not approve of me being in his presence without a male accompaniment, but I forged ahead with my spiel promoting my television station, telling him how I am giving him this opportunity to reach millions, promising he will grow his congregation, and be heard preaching around the world!

He had to pray about it.

Aarrggghhhh!!!!

Befriending the secretary proved to be a brilliant decision because two weeks later, I am still trying to get an answer, and having her help was crucial. I was determined that “No” was not acceptable, so I continued to hound from a distance until Bishop finally said he would be a part of this program.
After weeks of stress, hard work, planning and plotting, the day arrived. We picked up the president of our network from the airport. He was very pleased with my work and success with the bishop. A church was bussing in their congregation to be the audience. Our set was stunning. The Green Room well stocked with the finest foods and drinks. Paperwork and releases signed. The engineers had everything wired and synced. The camera operators were in place. Sound checks done. We were 15 minutes to air, and I am so pleased, not to mention, I see a nice raise coming my way.

Then I start to hear the sound of a crumbling sky.

My secretary comes running to me saying that we had a big problem, and indeed we did.
Mr. Minister is at the front door saying he won’t be making the broadcast because he just remembered another obligation. Crack. Crumble.
No amount of pleading, crying, promising or shaming was changing his mind.

The sky was falling. It was the end of the world. Blood rushed through my head, and I saw the end of my career just seconds away.

I had no choice but announce to my boss what had happened. Thunder cracked. Clouds desinigrated. The sky continued to fall.

The show must go on, and it did. Without the guest speaker. We made it through the 3-hour airing by improvising, shaking, stretching out the talking heads, sweating, and adding more music.

I thought the sky completely landed upon the earth this night, but I was wrong. My career continued, successfully, and I never heard from the bishop or his secretary. I think he was not ready for the big-time:-)

When I think I am experiencing the sky falling and the end of the world is upon me, I remember the bishop, and I smile.

Chicken Little need not panic. The sky may open up but will never swallow me. I’ve learned to dodge the debris.

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And Then I Found my Passion . . .

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Life often gets in the way of opportunities,  delays our chances, diverts our purpose and challenges our growth, confuses our passions and causes us to stop learning those things that are the most meaningful of all.

I always want to find a person’s passion for there lies their heart, but so many find it hard to know what makes their heart beat.

Passion is hard to define.  Being a mother and housewife and good person in my community was a wish I held since about the age of 2 when I pretended to be Susie Homemaker, and I believe that I met the challenge of being the best mom, a dutiful wife – not to mention great cook and seamstress –  and by all indications, was a respected part of my town, church, tribe.  I agreeably met expectations, and loved doing so.

As a child, I knew it was important to help others, but as I got older, I knew that  I wanted my life to be spent aiding the down-trodden, the misfits, those who struggle.  In school, there were girls who were unkempt, not bathed, wearing shabby clothes, and could never invite anyone to their homes, nor were they ever invited into the homes of others.  The kids would pass “cooties” every time one of these girls walked by or was accidentally touched.  Wrong.  Very wrong.  The scars, I am sure, still remain.

I do not recall, nor can I imagine, ever participating in this cruelty, but it was about 4th grade that I started feeling inside an ache in my heart for unfortunate people, and it remains to this very day.

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In grade school, and for many years, The Appalachian Mountains called me, but I did not go.  I sent books and gave money, but I yearned to go there to teach and hug and understand.  I still regret not going.

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After High School, I signed up for the Peace Corps, and when my departure was merely weeks away, I kissed this guy and thought I was falling in love.  I don’t know if leaving would have been the best decision, and I don’t know if falling in love was the best decision, but that’s another discussion.  Even in the midst of our discovering our passion, we become passionate:-)

Life, and influence of those around me who feared for my safety, interrupted my trip to skid-row in Chicago.  I really have no comprehension that others might want to cause me harm, so have never been concerned for my safety.  People tell me I just have a streak of stupid here.  I still want to work on skid-row, and believe that I will one day.  I know I can make a difference – if nothing more than giving a hug and a hot cup of coffee.

And such were the plans of an everyday housewife.

For a few years I regularly visited a drug rehab center for young women and encouraged many by simply listening and offering hope that a better day was ahead.  I understood struggles, and would freely share my story.  In time, I bonded with a beautiful girl who had traveled a very rocky road, and after many months of getting acquainted, Theresa and I started climbing her mountain of living independently.  We found a landlord willing to offer low rent, we scoured the county’s yard sales for furniture and household items, and we began the legal process that would allow her visitation with her 4-year-old daughter.  This story does not have a happy ending.  Drugs won.  This was not fairytale material, but in the midst of it, you cannot think failure is even possible.  If we knew the outcome, we would never climb the first rung.

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My time in inner city Detroit allowed me the privilege of loving and feeding and holding those who never felt the sun shine on their souls for even a day.  Visiting the psych ward at the Detroit City Hospital is an experience I will never forget.  Juanita was delusional and different, but she had normal days, and I enjoyed helping her manage life, driving her to church and being her friend.  The day I received the call that she was taken – in a straight-jacket – to the hospital was a hopeless one.  Juanita had tried to kill herself, and the edge of insanity had come so close that she simply had to crash on the other side.  I visited with her a few times but with too many prescription drugs and only a vague recognition, I abandoned the fight for Juanita, but the overall fight is never over.  We can never give up on those who need us.

We are all touched, in one form or another, by mental illness, and the stigma surrounding those who suffer must stop!  I am not naïve enough to say that love can cure the disease, but love can offer hope and change, but this is another story for another day.

4981911-extreme-close-up-image-of-drunk-man-holding-a-glass-of-whiskeyDoug was a recovering alcoholic.  It had been years since he had lived in his own home, and after choosing Jim Beam over his wife and children, life began its downward spiral.  He showed up at the television station every day to do odd jobs and be around “good” people.  He was funny and animated and very helpful.  When the sun started going down, he and I would walk down the street to the local coney island and get him dinner before he wandered off into the darkness toward home – address unknown.  Doug rarely cried over his lot in life.  He knew that to keep taking the 12 steps was a challenge big enough.

So many stories of people – people who are beyond the whining stage, who are standing on an unsteady floor at the bottom of nothing, who are over the idea that someone will take care of them . . . My passion, my calling, my purpose?  No one is too dirty, too poor, too lost, too sad, too sick, too lonely that love cannot change their life, but, the end of this story is not about their lives being changed, but how each of them have changed mine.  I am not a Mother Theresa because I do not do what I do without reward.

I rarely get to the end of the story with most people I have met, and I rarely know how my presence changed their lives, but I do know how they – each one of them – has affected mine, and there, my friend, is my reward.  Yes, there is a price to pay to help others.  Broken trust, sad heart, threat of disease, and a weariness that may take days to overcome, but it is worth it.  There is not one person I wish I had not met.

So, here I am in Estes Park, Colorado, far from The Appalachian Mountains or the skid-row in Chicago, but I am living my passion.

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The Promise, a ministry in Marion, Illinois, reaches out with love and hope to the homeless and needy.  Dave and Peg Maragni share my passion and allow me to be a part – from a distance.   I visited them when in Illinois earlier this month, and they are doing a tireless work.  It is my privilege to know them.  If you want to know more, “Like”  their page – The Promise, Marion, Illinois, on Facebook.

Locally, I have a family who needs help.  Their home flooded, and they are out of work, and our laws say they are not supposed to be here, so they are afraid of asking for help.  One of the parents is legal and one is not.  How to explain to the children that to ask for food and shelter threatens to devastate the family even more than they already are?  I am happy to report that after many hard days, we are getting ahead of the challenges and are more hopeful with every sunrise.

Immigration reform.  Another story for another day.

Today, I thank you for reading my heart and hearing my passion.  May you find your passion among the expectations of your life, and may your passion help others find theirs.

Falling Apart . . .

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I have traveled to the end of this road –  The realization that this journey was over was swift and clear.  Never mind what the street signs are showing, it is time to find a seat and check out that less-traveled road.  This is my route.

First decision when hitting the wall was to quit my job.  My last day is August 11th.  It will be a sad day because this job has been good to me.  The friends I have made have enhanced my life beyond explaining.  What I have learned about restaurant management is priceless, and the leadership I had the privilege of working with was selfless and sincere.

So, what the hell is going on?

There is always – ALWAYS – a catalyst to change, and this was no different, but knowing the catalyst is meaningless when understanding the change.  Believe me when I tell you that I did not run off with the Shamrock man.  I did not become allergic to Italian.  I am not moving back home.  There was no drama.  I was not fired.  I am not terminally ill., I did not lose my mind.  I did not win the lottery.  I did not get hired as aide to the President.  I am not pregnant.

It was just time for me to go . . .

Life can be mysterious, but there are moments of clarity where you know that you know that you know.  This decision was just that clear.

If you follow this blog, and know me, then you are aware that the last 5 years have been brutal.  I took the beatings and kept moving forward caring for my granddaughter, holding back the tears, shoving the pain aside and taking the next painful step. Numb is the word.  Weariness is real.

In order to feel again, I must grieve.  I have to stop and feel the pain of a very sad divorce, and mourn my dad, remember my moms – both of them, acknowledge the losses, accept the truths, face the facts and get up, take a step, and start all over again.

I always knew this day would come, but it had to be when I had time to stop – and when I felt safe to do so.

After I fall apart, what will I do?  I have not a clue, but I am very excited for the rest of my life.

Having time to fall in love, explore, mediate, dance, dream, hug, believe, and laugh will be the tools I use to put me together again, and then I will be strong and sure and settled.

Everyone faces these times, so I am nothing unusual, but I am just transparent enough to tell you about it.  I hope my journey encourages you to know that life can be thrilling, whether you are falling apart or coming together.  Everything is a life lesson.

You won’t see me as much, or hear from me as often – for now – but rest assured that I will be back – with a purpose and a plan and wonderful, delightful, delirious happiness!

 

Calories and Diets and Scales, Oh, My!

I wrote this particular post to give me perspective. Please feel free to join me in reading it.

I have no idea how much I weighed at birth, and the certificate is tucked away in a little lock box and not relevant any more than you knowing how much I weigh today. This post is not about any number other than the 1,367,432 times I have started a diet. Following is my journey.

Stephanie’s grandfather use to tease her saying she ate chicken and dumplings the day she was born. When the doctor told my mother she could now introduce food, I know I threw down the bottle and cried for a buffet! Right away, food and I hugged tightly, and we became inseparable, and I became chubby, which was shown even by the tag inside my clothes.

We grew up in a food house – meaning Mom enjoyed cooking and baking, and we enjoyed what she cooked and baked. Everything her family liked, she made, and we really liked cakes and cookies and fried chicken and homemade ravioli and pork roast and potatoes and stews. Did you spot any healthy foods in that list? Food equated to love, and my mom loved us.

My first serious diet came in high school. Low-carb was the craze. I had the little pocket carb-counter book, and I lost around 40 pounds and kept it off for a few years. Too busy dating, dancing, working to think about food, my infatuation waned, food became like an old magazine, and we took different paths. Unfortunately, we met up again when I was 20 and newly married.

My life dream was being a housewife and mother, and, like taught, food speaks love, and I loved my husband, and I loved to cook. My crown of jewels came from the meals I prepared and the desserts I baked. We blissfully ate all hours of the day and night. I still remember my first meals at Taco Bell and Arby’s. Fast-food was so darn yummy! I had my man. I had my home. Putting on the pounds was not a concern, and not being able to fit into my bikini became alright as a married women shouldn’t wear a bikini anyway.

When I became pregnant, I immediately quit my 2-pack a day smoking habit, and tried to be more aware of what I ate. I did well, and after delivering a 9 pound 10.5 ounce baby, I soon returned to eating . . .

Somewhere in my 30’s I woke up, looked down at my plate, and decided I didn’t want to do this anymore. At that moment, everything changed. I set up a gym in the garage, counted calories and lost weight. I was back in a size 12, and it felt wonderful – until, overnight, losing weight went to the back burner when I started having serious pain in my arms, hands and wrists.

I backed off of the weight lifting but my pain only increased. After seeing my family physician and being referred to a neurologist, I received a diagnosis of Lupus and rheumatoid arthritis. This misguided physician predicted, by analyzing my blood test results, that I would be in a wheelchair in 10 years. Depression, mindless eating, toxic medications, steroids, tests, oral chemotherapy, and many trips to a St. Louis rheumatologist followed.

After riding this roller coaster for too many years, I found myself at over 300 pounds, sickly and defeated. I was terribly unhappy.

No one knows me like I do. When something is out of sync in my body, I know it. I felt that I was being over-medicated, and I intended to steer myself into remission, which I did. With my doctor’s input, I ceased all medications, followed the healthy eating plan as outlined in What Would Jesus Eat by Don Colbert, and gradually my head cleared from the fog, much weight dropped off, and I felt empowered for having taken control of my life.

This was about 9 years ago, and today, I am preparing to take the next road of this healthy-living journey. The pantry is cleared out, the refrigerator is stocked, my resolve is set . . . . There is nothing complicated about making the right choices, but it takes, for me, determination, motivation, and preparation. One meal at a time, one mile at a time, one pound at a time. This can be my only sane approach.

Having studied nutrition and read hundreds of articles on the relationship between what we eat and anti-inflammatory diseases, I am equipped with the knowledge, and friends offer the encouragement I need, but practicing becomes more difficult than the preaching. Feeling defeated by the past failures will not further my cause, so my motto is “To be the BEST I can be today“.

Everyone struggles with something, I believe, and everyone understands defeat. It is in the triumphs that we encourage others to experience their own victories. Coming out from behind the curtain is the first victory with many more to follow. Wish me luck! I will keep you posted.

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