HAPPY BIRTHDAY PATTI!

Today is Patti’s birthday.  She is the baby of the family, 5 years younger than me.  She is a native Floridian, born at Winter Park hospital.  I was not enthused when Mom and Dad brought her home.  I remember looking into the car window, seeing her and going back to the neighbors to stay.  That was kind of the way it was for a long time.  I was not very kind to her when she was young.  I am probably responsible for the therapy sessions still to come!  I think she was two when I knocked her down in the bathtub and she hit her front teeth on the tub.  Before the braces, I always knew those crooked teeth were my fault.  When I had to take her to the skating rink with me, I completely ignored her.  Any abandonment issues are probably my fault too!

Patti evolved into an amazing woman.  She married Jack when she was 18 and has two boys, Matthew and Mark.  I marvel at her creativity with her children.  When Matt was little, they went to visit a tractor store and wrote a “book” about their day, pictures and all.  That has always struck me in such a beautiful way.  She was always involved in the boy’s activities and did her best to make sure their dreams came true.  I really think that their dreams became her dreams.  She is a great mom.

Her creative talents have been used at various places she has worked as motivational tools or just random acts of kindness.  Her home is beautifully and tastefully decorated and that reflects her creative talents as well.   She took an IQ test and is one point shy of a genius so we always tease her about that. 

She is very funny and has a dry sense of humor when she lets it shine through.  She is a Southern Lady and has tried to expose me to the world of grown up clothes and make up.  I try, but honestly, am so much more comfortable in jeans and a t-shirt.  We are both Bobbie Brown fans (make up not the singer)  I do have a Talbot’s card for emergencies and I think that made her proud.

Patti and Jack are conservative, which makes them easy targets for me. Once we were going to the Antique Market in Mount Dora and when they came to pick me up, I was dressed up in leopard Capri leggings and LOTS of make-up and teased hair.  (my ex thought I looked pretty hot by the way!)  They were mortified, couldn’t even hide it.  It was pretty funny.  I did tone it down in the car but it was worth the laugh I got. 

And then there was the time when Patti & I stopped at a roadside fruit stand.  They had fresh Georgia peaches.  I couldn’t wait to bite into one but Patti told me I had to wash it first.  As we were driving away, I bit into it anyway and then pretended to start choking.  Patti slammed on the brakes and panicked.  It was pretty funny to me, but not to her.

Patti has definitely been a Spiritual Leader for me.  She challenges me and makes me think in ways I have not considered.  She is quick to remind me that if it isn’t biblical, it isn’t from God and she helps me with the quotes that I get so very wrong.   The day that I separated from my ex-husband, she went to church and brought me home a communion host.   It was such a kind and loving thing she did for me.  

For some reason, people do not remember Patti’s name and they always remember mine.  Last Christmas we made arrangements to meet at a favorite gift store to shop.  I went earlier than planned so that I could buy her present.  When I was leaving I told them I’d be back in an hour and it would be a great joke if they would all say hello to me, Marilyn, when Patti & I came back.  When I returned with Patti, each employee said “Hi Marilyn” as we walked around.  Patti never said a word but I could tell she was miffed.  Christmas Eve, after she opened her present, I told her what happened.  She laughed and I think felt better.   

Patti is very shy which sometimes causes problems when she is with me since I am so loud.  I try to contain myself when we are together so I don’t embarrass her.  She is definitely a ray of sunshine in my life, I am so proud to have her as my sister.   Happy birthday Patti, I love you very much.

CONQUERING FEAR

I used to have horrible panic attacks.  It is hard for me to believe it now, but fear consumed me.

 In 1990 I made a wonderful friend who taught me how to get past my fears.  It took a couple years but when I was ready, she told me to make a list of everything I wanted to do but was too afraid to try and then pick the most preposterous thing on the list and just go do it.   Now you would think that would be insane but for some reason, I said ok.  I made my list and have spend the last 20 years doing just that.  Here are some of the highlights of this journey.

The most preposterous thing on the list was to sky dive.  In July of 1993 I took the plunge, literally!  I did a tandem jump.  We had the jump recorded so I had proof that I actually did it.  It was a little tiny plane with only one seat for the pilot and we went up 10,500 feet.  You can see in the video the instructor ripping my hand from the door and pushing me out of the plane.  It was exhilarating.  I did not pull the rip cord so it didn’t count as an official jump.  The jolt of the parachute releasing is a feeling I will not forget.  Then we just slowly floated to the ground, looking at the beautiful scenery.  I still remember every moment of it as if it was yesterday. 

When I was in early middle school I took piano lessons and quit when there was going to be a recital.  I wanted nothing to do with that.  I had always wanted to take lessons again, just for the enjoyment of doing it.  I found a teacher and took lessons for a year.  About two months into the lessons, guess what?  A recital, poop.  But this time, I did it.  I asked if I could go first so that I could get it over and not be intimidated by the other students.  He agreed and I played my two songs, Fur Elise and The Sting.  They were not great, but I got through it.  My teacher told me technically I was a good player but I didn’t play with any passion.  That was fine with me.   I marked another item off my list.

I loved to go to the movies and to the beach but was afraid to go by myself.  Now I had a new found confidence and did both. Turns out I love going to the movie alone and I can turn a weekend at the beach alone into a personal retreat.  Both are fantastic.  Two more items off the list.

I had trouble driving in traffic.  When we lived in Dallas and I had to drive on the interstate, I would drive a few miles, pull over and cry, and drive a few more miles.  And I was afraid I would have to parallel park so I would not go places if that was a possibility.  It goes on and on.  The driving issue was pretty well taken care of when I got a cell phone. Turns out I was more afraid of getting lost than anything so the cell phone eliminated the fear.  In 2001 I drove to Helen, GA by myself, not once, but twice!

Illness of those that I love was a huge fear.  How do you handle it, what do you do?  It was not an issue in my life but it still was a constant nag.  I decided to volunteer for Hospice.  I took the classes necessary to learn their theology and got my first patient.  I asked for a nursing home patient because I didn’t want to be totally responsible for anyone.   Of course, they wouldn’t permit that anyway but I didn’t know it at the time.  I learned so much from this experience, when the time came, I took a second patient.  It was a wonderful experience and I am so glad that I did it.  I learned to listen in a brand new way and I met two amazing women in their final days.  Someday I hope to volunteer for it again.

Today I took my first ice skating lesson.  This is the final thing on my list.  My sister Patti started taking lessons last week.  She asked if I could still join the class and they said yes.   The security of Patti being there was comforting but as it turns out, Patti wasn’t able to go today so I started the journey alone.  I wanted to bolt and run but I didn’t.  I went anyway. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I put on my skates and walked over to the instructor.  First thing she taught me was how to fall.  I did not want to fall and didn’t do it well.  I decided right then and there that I was not going to need that skill.  I am stubborn!  As we got on the ice I started thinking that at 54 I really didn’t need to do this.  Very few people knew about my list and no one would blame me if I bolted.  But, I would know.  So onward ho!  I cannot believe how fast an hour lesson goes.  I was exhausted at the end.  But I did it.  I managed to stay upright, looking like a zombie trying to keep my balance.  I did not fall, no broken bones, no concussion, just a terrific feeling of accomplishment.   I will be there front and center for my next lesson.

Through this journey, I learned that some fears are normal and even good.  I also learned that knowledge is powerful.  I cannot expect to know everything.  Skills have to be learned.  If I want to grow a beautiful rose garden, I need to find someone who has one and allow them to teach me.  Somehow I had a disconnect and thought as an adult I should just know everything. 

I am not free from fear and anxiety but today when it rears its ugly head I just say to myself “Marilyn, you jumped out of an airplane, you CAN do this!” and off I go.  Life is sweet.

DIETING THOUGHTS

I have to agree with Oprah, I cannot believe that after all this time I am still dealing with my weight.  I have lost and gained the same 50 pounds for the last 10 years.  Forget about the other 30 that I just ignore. 

I try really hard to pay attention to ways God speaks to me.  Whenever I hear this passage, it makes me think of dieting.  Romans 7:15-20.     “15I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature.[c] For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19For what I do is not the good I want to do; no, the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.”

When I start on a diet and fail, I am so mad at myself.  Why can I not stick to it?  I cannot think of many diets that I have not tried at one time or another.  I have been on liquid diets, Adkins, high fiber, injected with pregnant woman’s urine (wonder who donates that, I didn’t care at the time if it actually worked!), taken diet pills, and gone vegetarian which was a dismal failure.  Did you know that you have to eat vegetables when you are a vegetarian?   I add so much cheese to cover up the taste of the vegetables that I actually gained weight.  I tried to become an exercise bulimic but getting to the gym was never a priority to me.  I was actually a Group Leader for one popular diet program for a couple years.  I liked that one but just can’t get into it anymore.  I was hypnotized a couple times too.  I would love to get the Lap Band but don’t have a spare $15,000.00 hanging around so I am going to have to do it the old fashioned way.  Does anyone know how much it costs to have your mouth wired shut?

I have come to believe that I am addicted to fat.  Not addicted to being fat, but addicted to fat itself.  Who likes a potato with nothing on it?  But add butter, sour cream, bacon and cheese and now you have something.  You can fry them or make hash browns, even if you roast them in the oven you add fat.  What about the potato chip?  No wonder almost every diet says to stay away from potatoes.  We are encouraged to eat sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes since they are “better” for us.  Have you ever had sweet potato French fries?  Man, they are good!

Fish is another one.  I am not a big fish eater but if you fry it, I will eat.  I had some terrific grilled salmon that had a sauce made with mayo, red onion and parmesan cheese.  Now that was good.   You cannot put enough fat on sushi to make me eat it. 

I have been reading a lot about eating natural foods.  One article said if it didn’t come from God, don’t eat it.  Eating fat free mayonnaise or fat free cheese is a sin, I am sure of it.  If you try to feed it to rats I bet they would turn away.  How on earth are we supposed to eat it?  Nothing that bad can come from God.  That is very clear to me.  Then another article said that if it comes in a box or bag, don’t eat it.  Doesn’t rice, brown or white, come in a bag?  And how are we supposed to eat pasta?  All pasta comes in a box or bag doesn’t it?  Are we supposed to make our own pasta?  Are crackers hard to make?  And if I make my own homemade bread, I will be big as a horse. 

Is butter considered natural? What about cheese?  Is it the product itself or how it is made?  If I have to make everything I eat, I should lose a lot of weight.  Maybe that is how it all works.  You just get so tired trying to cook everything that you don’t bother anymore.  God, please help me to do what I want to do and not what I hate to do.  Wait a minute, another mixed message, I hate to cook too.  Now what am I going to do?

DADDY’S LAUGH

I can’t believe that it has been nine months since dad passed away.  In some ways it feels like yesterday and in other ways it feels like forever.  I think the thing I miss the most right now about Dad being gone is his laugh.  When he was really tickled about something, he had this really great full laugh.  With Dad, if you could spin a situation into something funny, the punishment was much less.

When Mom started working I must have been in 7th grade.  My school was on double sessions and I got home around noon.  On St. Patrick’s Day, mom had me start dinner.  Corn Beef and Cabbage was a must on St. Patrick’s Day and Dad loved it.  Mom told me to turn the burner on a certain number and leave it alone.  For some reason, the house started filling up with smoke.  I opened all the windows to let the smoke out.  When mom got home she asked why I didn’t turn the burner off and I said that all she told me to do was turn it on, she never told me what to do if it started smoking.  Dinner was ruined.  Mom salvaged enough corned beef so dad could have a sliver and the rest of us had something else.  Dad loved this story and told it every St. Patrick’s Day. 

In 8th grade History class, I got a zero on my paper.  Remember when you had to put your name and subject and date on the right side of the paper?  If you did it correctly, you automatically got 10 points.   I didn’t, so I got a zero.  He roared.  I failed another History test that was a matching test.  I eliminated the ones I thought I knew and then matched the rest.  One of the questions was  ” Who is buried in Grant’s tomb?”  My answer was Lincoln.  I didn’t know what a tomb was and Lincoln was the only match I had left.  Dad laughed so hard.  It was almost like I was being rewarded for messing up. 

I took sewing class in High School.  In those days, you were required to take Home Economics type classes if you were a girl.  I thought sewing would be easy, although I don’t know why.  They actually made you sew in the class.  My project was to make a jumper which seemed easy enough.  I have absolutely no talent for sewing and while I was trying to thread the needle of the sewing machine, which is an art in itself, I popped a bubble from my gum and it got onto the needle.  Then I accidently hit the go peddle and the gum was all inside the machine.  It was a nightmare.  As I was explaining this to dad, he started laughing, a really big roar, and I knew that it was going to be ok.  I have no idea what happened with the school or the sewing machine.  I never got into trouble over it and dad would bring it up every so often and laugh just as he did back then.

Dad loved to tease us.  The worst thing you could do was let him know he got you because once he did, he was relentless.  I don’t know why that gave him so much delight but it did.  And it was not just me and my sisters, it was neighbors, cousins, anyone he could get to react.

I am afraid as time goes by I will forget Dad’s laugh.  I know it is a normal thing to happen but I just want to hold on to the memory as long as I can.  We have a CD that Aunt Jean gave us that Dad is talking and I still play it a lot, just to hear his voice and his laugh.  I miss him very much and I pray he is at peace.