It has been a few hard years, folks - like, going on 8 hard years. Major career changes; HUGE challenges to our hearts, minds, and bodies; birth and death of ginormous dreams; muscle disease; chronic, ahem, digestive issues in 2 of our children; Leukemia diagnosed in our youngest son; and personal pain in the private sector beyond description. And this is a bird's eye view. Ugh.
And then there's this: I am an emotional eater. The more the stress, the more the snacks; the brownies; the Circle K Slushies; the garlic knots from Sardella's; the cookies; the . . . well you get the picture. I also "tuck in" when I am stressed. I am an introvert by nature so the more I'm hurting, the less I want to talk to anyone. Like, anyone. I'm also a born "inside person" so the result of the aforementioned crazy stress load is a person working to stay inside, as comfortable as possible, eating carbs and saying, "Just leave me alone for a little while, OK?"
There are some crises during which this actually worked well for awhile (the first few months of cancer - UGH!!!), but overall, though I was able to fight some of the extraneous symptoms more often than not, two main things have been happening fairly continuously for the better part of 7+ years: I want to eat, and I do NOT want to exercise. You all know where I'm going with this.
Now here comes the confession I do not relish making, are you ready? I have gained 30 pounds in the past 5 years. Ugh. I do have to say that this is God's goodness to me because, according to my behavior, it is pure grace that I have not gained 130 pounds! Yeah, it's been bad. Thankfully I have lost around 100 pounds too, but it's the same 10 pounds or so over and over and over and over and over so it just doesn't count! Add chronic weight loss failure to my list of stressors and round and round we go. Ay yi yi . . .
Then there was a stretch in there for awhile when, every time I started to eat healthy again, someone I love went into the hospital. This is not an exaggeration - every single time. In fact there was a week shortly after one determined push to lose the weight and keep it off that my father-in-law had emergency surgery, Daniel had two nights of fever which takes us to the hospital (cancer - ugh!) and my best friend was hospitalized and almost died right in front of my eyes. That made it INCREDIBLY complicated and discouraging to eat well! I figured then that the best thing I could do for the people I love was to eat as much junk as possible. Yeah. Great plan.
Interestingly, this past November I was just coming out of the slump I talked about in my last post when something happened in our family that made me more determined than ever to get healthy again - Martial Arts.
I will spare you the long and incredible story of how our whole family ended up attending class at USA Martial Arts except to say this ~ we absolutely LOVE it!!! Master John Nottingham is a kind, generous, positive person in addition to being a gifted instructor and a TON of fun for our boys. Everyone there is fantastic and sweet and team/family oriented and we started forming some special friendships with like-minded folks. It serves as a gym for Chad and me as well as sports interaction for the boys. Learning Martial Arts is a lifelong dream come true for me personally and, well, I can't overstate how much we love it.
As we went to class and worked toward our next belt (and it is WORK, let me tell you!), I thought to myself, "Hey, here is an opportunity to do something fun with my family, learning practical skills, meeting great people and . . . wait for it . . . EXERCISE!!!! I know I'm dedicated to Martial Arts so if I combined that with healthy eating, I might actually get into shape!! I could lose 20 pounds and feel 20 years old again! Hey . . . 20/20! I'll call 2015
"The Year of 20/20"!
I was so unbelievably excited. I waited until after the holidays to start eating right (because, well, yeah . . .), but I started really focusing on my training right away. I made up a pack of index cards on which I wrote the skills and maneuvers I wanted to work on faithfully at home. I added in walking almost every day, drinking a ton of water, etc. and I was feeling great about 2015! Shortly before Christmas our whole family tested for - and earned - our gold belts and I was thinking, "Bring. It. ON!!"
Would you believe I hurt my knee? Personally, I could not believe it.
I mildly hyper-extended it in class; not a devastating injury, just enough to kick me out of Martial Arts for awhile and make it very challenging to, you know . . . walk.
LORD, are you KIDDING ME?!?!?!
I went into an absolute spin. I could not believe it. My dream was wrecked, my plan was wrecked, our family time was wrecked, my goals for testing for my next belt (WITH my family!) was wrecked - and my nerves were wrecked. How much can a girl take?!
I cried out to God - "Lord, I wasn't worshipping Martial Arts! It hasn't become an idol or anything! I just want to get healthy again!!! Did you hear me? I'm not even trying to get skinny - I just want to be healthy! Don't you want me to be healthy too?? Oh, LORD!!!!"
It was awful. I cried the bitter tears of the hopelessly heartbroken - not because of the knee exactly (though losing Martial Arts was a huge blow!), but because the knee was just one more thing on a very LONG list of things that weren't working right! It wasn't supposed to go that way!! Like the MAJOR career shift recently; like Chad's health suffering; like cancer invading the body of my baby boy. "Lord, is it seriously just not possible for something good in my life to WORK RIGHT?!?!" I was beside mysboth
Add to this the practical implications of Mama being out of commission. The doctor said to "stay off of it" if I wanted it to heal. Grrrrrr!!!!!!! Yes, I want it to heal but, hello! I have 4 kids! And we homeschool! And my husband is not well! And I really, really want to do Martial Arts!!!!! But yes, I want it to heal. So I called for a boy when I couldn't reach my Chapstick. I called for a boy when I couldn't both use the crutches AND move my drink from one room to the next. And I iced it and I elevated it and I asked Chad to run to Walmart for me. And I sat on a bench in my jeans (trying HARD, though unsuccessfully, to not cry) and watched my family do Martial Arts without me.
And I hated it. I was smothered by the irony that even three months ago I would have loved an opportunity to just sit in a chair and read a book. Now that I WANT to be up and exercising and working hard - I can't. Irony. I hate irony. I also can't be in the kitchen cooking healthy food like I want to be - or out shopping for said food. That darn knee changed everything!!
Of course, in the middle of everything, God met me. In my knee pain, Martial Arts grief, and general weariness through and through He was there. I have learned this: if I am open to the Lord, He will meet me wherever I am.
This time, ironically, He met me in doing sit-ups. I was so frustrated that I couldn't be working out and I was concerned that I would actually gain weight from just sitting around not doing even basic physical activity. Well, one day after I did my dreaded PT exercises, I wanted to see if I could do sit-ups. Guess what?! I COULD!! Praise God, doing sit-ups doesn't affect my knee at all! It seems kind of silly actually, but it was that one small victory that helped shift my entire perspective off of what I can't do and onto what I CAN do. I was excited. I was empowered! I was encouraged.
So then all of this is to tell you I haven't given up on 2015 being the Year of 20/20. Certain parts of it will have to wait - and that's OK. My next belt might have to wait - and that's OK. I'm writing this to tell you that I'm growing up. I realize I can't afford to let every blow be the end of me (if only because the blows just keep coming!). I'm learning the truth of the fact that everything that happens to me is 10% circumstances and 90% attitude. I simply can't afford to live my life with that ratio reversed. As I write, I have a pounding sinus headache because I'm getting a cold and to that I say, "Whatever, Lord! It's your head. It's your knee and it's your 2015. I'm going to do my best with what you give me".
Of course it helped my attitude that my physical therapist said I only have to stay off of my knee if/when it hurts. Then my dad came to town for the sole purpose of encouraging his distraught daughter which was a precious gift! It also helped my attitude that my PT exercises are serving me in preparation for Marital Arts and that, if I'm careful, I can do Marital Arts from the waist up. These are all good things that make me happier, but I pray I will allow the bad things to make me more trusting.
Maybe 2015 will be the year of 20/20 vision! Of learning to see things as God sees them ~
and trusting Him with them all.