Enough Said

Enough Said
A sampling of my columns and why the hell is my picture SO big?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

No regrets - we're not in Kansas anymore

As a kid I was the one who seldom got in trouble. I was the well-liked girl and young woman considered a good citizen. I played by the rules, had fun, and stretched the fabric of youth just as far as I could without having it snap back to welt me. But now, as considered a woman of a certain age, when I look back I see a long line of trees along my path with the word “regret” carved in each one.
Having lived a life of wonderful opportunities, many of which I acted on and some I turned my back to, I sometimes wallow in a world of what-ifs. I used to fill my to-do jar for later, because when you’re young, later is a given but the problem was, the jar filled fast and there was little room for later.

So I wonder, how do those of us who have tried, failed and got up again dismiss regret? How do we set it aside and come to terms with failure?

My daughters and I have a habit of watching movies we’ve really like, over and over. If one is on TV, and we happen to be together, we’ll tune in and watch. But we’re really not watching the movie, we’re visiting with each other with the soundtrack and dialog like an old friend mumbling in the background. One of our repeat favorites is Twister, an action flick which came out about twenty years ago.

It’s about a group of storm chasers starring Helen Hunt and Bill Paxton, as a soon to be divorced couple, thrown together for one last chase. Not sure why it resonated so well with us. Maybe it’s the combination of kitsch, action, humor and heart.

It becomes the job of our daring duo to place their scientific tornado research machine, (called Dorothy for OZ fans), filled with little round sensors, into the path of the storm. It’s dangerous work. It can be deadly but our couple is determined to save mankind by increasing tornado warning time.
Okay, so the premise is farfetched and the dialog cheesy at times. Hunt, trying to make sense regarding the loss of her father in an EF5 tornado when she was a little girl, and Paxton, a natural at predicting the paths of twisters, are a perfect storm of a couple when it comes to risk.

In one scene our foolhardy storm-duo places Dorothy in the path of an approaching tornado while being hammered by hail, thunder, lightning and flying debris. Of course Dorothy is knocked over and all the little sensors scatter across the blacktop. Helen Hunt scampers to pick them up. Bill Paxton shouts about the futility of continuing their task in the face of such a deadly storm.

Hunt, still determined to see her life’s work launched shouts back, “You’ve never seen what one of these storms can do, how it can miss one house, miss another and then come for you.”

“Is that what you think?” Paxton says. “You can’t bring your father back. You can’t change the past, you can’t predict the future. What you have is right in front of you, right now.”

Wise words truly spoken in the middle of a fictional storm.
So, regarding those trees lining my path to my past, I keep telling myself, shade and oxygen, shade and oxygen.

Regret is a scar which eventually fades. It may never go away because we can’t change the past. And because we can’t predict the future, we must be mindful of the lush green canopy of now, by grasping today with peace, gratefulness and gusto for prospects undiscovered.

Finally a loser

About five years ago I lost about 100 lbs. I’m using the word “about” because the start date, how long it took and actual amount are a bit murky. I went from a size 22 to a size 10. I even have a few size 8s in my closet. To be honest I wore single digits for about 5 minutes. Another murky “about.” My doctor wanted me to lose another 10 or so but gaunt was not what I was looking for. Healthy was my goal.

I was what was considered a sturdy kid, solid, meaty, a rough and tumble girl. I played hard, ran fast and far until the first dance of high school. I cried behind the bleachers because not one boy asked me to dance. My dad picked me up after the dance and drove us to my best friend’s home. On the way The Four Season’s hit Big Girls Don’t Cry played on the radio. My friends commented about how appropriate the song was for me at that moment. I never explained to my father what they meant.
I had been put on diets as a youngster because my mother did not approve of my plumpness. But it wasn’t until after the dance that I embraced the quest to lose weight like a drowning man grasps the gunnel of a sinking boat; it only saves you for a little while.

Until five years ago my entire life revolved around the loathing of fat cells. I tried almost every diet imaginable. They all worked for a little while but how can anyone commit to nothing but sauerkraut and hard boiled eggs without alienating those close to you. Jobs, marriage and children piled on the pounds and as I aged, losing weight became that thing I talked about and never succeeded at. So I stopped beating myself up over every single thing I ate and felt free, and yet, I felt like a failure.

Once my husband and I found ourselves fully immersed in the revelry of empty nest everything changed. In the space of a few weeks both girls were off to college, I started a new job, my father had a stroke and lay dying, and my mother, the strongest of us all, became a needy empty husk of a woman. It was indeed, the most stressful time of my life, a time when overload defined my days and nights. As I look back I realize it was a turning point, although at the time I did not know it. 
My dad died and seven months later my mom passed away. Adrift, I wandered around as an adult orphan wondering what all life’s effort were really for. And that is when my secret weapon presented itself. My job. My very physical, eight hours on my feet, lifting, stretching and working up a sweat job, became my talisman.

Walking 4 to 5 miles a day during my hours at work was the one thing I knew would consistently make the difference if I wanted to lose weight. So I headed to a weight loss group. I am convinced that no matter the plan I chose at the time, it would have worked because my mind set had changed. And, my secret weapon made all the difference. Not in a million years did I ever think I could reinvent the body I was born with. But, in a way I did.

To be truthful, within the first year of reaching goal, I gained back “about” 10 lbs. and have maintained that level ever since. So the question is, why am I so publicly sharing my achievement? Because at my age, actually at any age, attempting, achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is important and not impossible. I don’t deny myself what I want, I just adjust. Feeling good “about” yourself is as important as just plain feeling good.