Ready or not?

I was talking to Troy, Battler of the Bulge, at the gym after sweating my bootie off on the elliptical rider, then doing some ab work.  He expressed frustration at gym members, one in particular who came in today claiming borderline diabetic, high blood pressure and obesity and their only obstacle to success is the cost of a personal trainer…. they claim.

Everyone faces adversity.  E v e r y o n e.  I am obese.  I have survived domestic abuse.  My children have survived my living circumstances.  I have one son who’s been diagnosed with ADHD and Tourette Syndrome (gratefully grown out of later when puberty hit full on) and one who’s never met his biological father.  I have a daughter who hasn’t spoken to her’s in several years.  I’m still waiting to see what the last daughter has up her sleeve and I pray it isn’t nearly as bad as what her siblings have faced.  I know people who have anger issues, people who are terminally pessimistic.  I know people who have had to face life-altering diagnoses of brain disorders in their infants and toddlers.  I know people who sit tight at home waiting for the return of a loved one who protects our country every day, who watch the news hoping their family member is coming back home alive.  I know people who have lost a child, spouse or parent or who have faced cancer.

I have lost loved ones.  I have a beautiful niece I never got to hold.  Sometimes when I think of her, I cry.  Other times, I get misty.  Of all the wonderful grandparents I remember, I have lost my Nana and my Grandpa (Ringbom), my Grandma (Hobson), my Grammy and Grandpa (Smith) and my Grandpa (Schwalm).  I have two nephews I pray I will someday get to hug again.

Nobody is immune to the vagaries of life.

Consider your adversity.  Today – what are you facing?  Now put it in perspective.  (I do this when I feel myself drowning.)  I get drastic.  Are my children healthy?  Yes.  Is Dallas alive and well?  Yes.  Are my parents, brothers and sisters healthy?  Yes.  Their children?  Yes.  Okay, then today is a GOOD day.  PERIOD.  There are NO BUTS to this answer.  None.  Because everything else I have to face, have had to face or will face has far less value than the lives of people I cherish.  Period.  Every other circumstance, regardless of what it is, IS surmountable.

Life is about people.  It’s not about your house burning down.  Did everyone make it out alive?  Family and pets?  Perspective.  It’s JUST  a house.  Take a deep breath and start from a new place.

I know it sounds quite simplistic.  I’m not trying to diminish the pain of living, the pain of loving, the pain of losing.  Remember – it happens to everyone.  You’re not alone in this world.  You haven’t been singled out to endure a special kind of pain no other person on this planet has ever experienced before.  Reach out and share your pain with others who are going through or have gone through what you’re facing.

When I first had to face the fact I was a victim of domestic abuse, I fell apart.  How could I have been so stupid?!?!  How could I let my boys live half their lives with a man who treated women the way he treated me?  Did they digest his behaviors?  Were they going to vomit up his responses when they were old enough to be in a relationship?  Did I unknowingly set them up to become abusers?  How could I let my girls watch their father treat me so horribly?  Were they going to find themselves attracted to a man like him?  Have I set them up to be abused?  Why did I let this man treat me like chattel?  What made me submit to his demands?  How would I identify a future abuser?  How could I be certain I wasn’t flawed?  How was I supposed to know I was marrying a man who would hurt me the way he did?

I didn’t have ANY answers. But I needed them.  I was uncertain about group therapy at KCM when I went to my first meeting.  I was so completely awash with humiliation.  I felt so stupid.  And this is something I never felt before.

Group sessions at KCM opened my eyes.  I was in a room full of women who had gone through the same thing I did.  My children were in a room full of children who had a father who treated their mother the same way their own father treated me.  And I became educated.  I learned to identify behaviors in others, regardless of gender, race, social status, education, sexual preference and culture, who had the potential to become abusers….if they weren’t already.  And I taught my children to consider their actions more carefully, taught them explosive anger is absolutely unacceptable.  Period.  Taught them what a respectful, loving, committed relationship should look like – pointing out examples of healthy relationships.  Talked about intimacy within a marriage until, I’m certain, they can tell you exactly what I’m going to say before I even say it when I talk about what goes on behind closed bedroom doors.  They didn’t get to witness it in my life.  I’m doing everything I can to ensure they create it in their own lives.

So, back to Troy and the gym member who’s arguing about the monthly rate for a personal trainer.   The guy is obese.  He is taking heart meds.  He’s been diagnosed as a borderline diabetic.  Perspective.  The cost of a personal trainer?  Or his life?

Is there really a choice?


A little off center and I’m out of tune

The last few days I’ve been feeling rather blah.  I can’t put my finger on the reason, but I’ve risen each day – quiet, contemplative.  Friends have commented.  There’s nothing new and unusual going on, nothing tragic or horrible.  We’re not in a full moon phase, I’m not PMS.  I just feel off.

I took a day off yesterday from the gym, although not intentionally.  I brought my gym bag with me to work but didn’t go.

Sitting here, thinking about it…  I do know why.

I had an appointment on Tuesday with a plastic surgeon about reconstructive surgery for my abdomen wall.  Let me go back a few years though and relate another story.  During and after my divorce, I started losing some serious weight.  Got down to 201 pounds.  I was watching what I ate, walking 3 or 4 miles every night after I put the kids into bed or spending my lunch break at the gym around the corner from Blue Haven.  I was feeling VERY good about myself.  I went in for my annual gynecological exam and my doctor, who I normally adore, while I was flat on my back, feet in the stirrups,  made the comment:  “You know, you’re never going to get rid of this.”  As he placed one hand on my abdomen and pushed, palpating my ovaries.  “You’ll need to see a plastic surgeon.  Your abdominal wall is a mess and you have a huge build up of scar tissue.”   Further, he asked why my obstetricians didn’t clean up this mess after each of my cesarean sections.  I didn’t know they could!  I’m assuming it’s because the birth of each of my children wasn’t planned/scheduled.  Breach, cervix dilation issues, pre-eclampsia and eclampsia.  Maybe if they’d been planned…

Sucker punched.  I worked SO hard to lose SO much weight, feeling really good about life for the first time in years and then WHAM!  Back then, I could barely afford food.  Surgery was never going to happen.  I sucked it up and went about my business but I didn’t go walking another night.  What was the point?  I can lose every pound but I will always have the kangaroo pouch.

There’s an advertisement I hear pretty regularly on my way into work.  It’s for a plastic surgery group.  The commercials talk about repairing damage from multiple births.  I didn’t call that particular group since someone I think very highly of recommended her surgeon.  I called, made an appointment (free consultation!) and went on Tuesday.

I arrived 15 minutes early to the appointment.  Highly unusual for me.  I’m a last-minute kinda girl.  Filled out the paperwork, offered my insurance card and sat down to wait.  Within a few minutes, I was escorted to a room where I was directed to remove my outer layer of clothes, leaving my underthings on.  Paper drape, opening to the front.  Done.  Sat down to wait.  The doctor entered my room, nurse following close behind and asked me what I was there for after shaking my hand.  I explained my situation.  He had me stand up and the humiliation began.

Yes, I have four beautiful children and my body paid the price.  I nursed them, too.  I’m stretched and scarred and misshapen.

Inside of a mere three minute, maybe five, examination, I was emotionally broken.  I was pulled, grabbed and squeezed.  “Cough.”  Grabbed.  “Cough.”  Grabbed.  “Cough.  Lay down on the table.  Pulled, grabbed, “Cough” and squeezed.  “Was this always hard?”  Tug, tug, tug.  “Get dressed.”  He didn’t leave the room while I reached for my dress, divesting myself of the paper gown.

Without looking at me in the eyes, the doctor explained he would be able to perform an abdominoplasty.  Ten days off work.  $7,000.00 will cover the anesthesia and 23 hour hospital stay.  Yes, I can keep my own belly button.

Insurance?  “Lots of women have c-sections.  No insurance.”

He left the room.

The nurse explained most people come in for a consultation and within a week have their surgery.  Still in shock from the treatment I just received, I declined.  I don’t have $7,000.00 sitting around.  That’s a car note!  She escorted me to the door of the waiting room after stopping to fumble in a storage closet, rifling through a box so she could hand me a couple of leatherette 2012 pocket calendars.

I went back to my car, climbed in, pulling my door shut behind me and sat there, stunned.  I texted Becki, told her I’d meet her at the gym and then drove.

I hurt for two days from all the grabbing and pulling on my body.  I don’t even have any nerve endings in my abdomen!  How did he manage to manhandle me to the point of pain??

Was it really such an inconvenience to him, my consultation?

I came home and googled reconstructive surgery following multiple births.  Guess what?  It IS covered by insurance.  I bet it’s a fair bit of work to prove I’m not looking for a quick fix.  I’m already losing weight.  I didn’t ask to lift this, tuck that and liposuction everything else.  Please, just fix my abdomen wall.  But I bet he’d have had to do a little bit of work in order to obtain insurance on my behalf.  I know many women who have had only two c-sections and their insurance companies paid for good portions of their surgeries.

If I hear of someone looking for cosmetic surgery of any kind?  I’ll tell them to run far, far away from this practice.  My friend was astonished by his behavior, told me she was going to call him and tell him flat-out she’ll never refer him again.

I will find a different doctor who will treat me as a mother who earned some serious scars as a result of one of the most loving sacrifices a woman gives – her body – for the sake of her children.

And this is the last time I’m giving that doctor any space in my head.


Sometimes food just tastes toooo darn good.

I went out to lunch today with a few of the really great group of people I work with.  Nicolo, Michael and Becki.  Mexican food was nixed right off.  Okay.  I can deal.  We listed off restaurant after restaurant and Michael decided on Saltgrass Steakhouse.  Now, I will never turn away a really great steak.  I’ve been anemic since I was about 16 years old.  The never-ending cycle of iron pills and Colace is no fun at all.  After years of eating red meat as prescribed my gynecologist – rare – even though I’ve acquired a taste for the vegetarian side of life (Thank you, Krista!), I still enjoy the mouthwatering tenderness and flavor of a slightly marinated, rare steak.

I had the following:

Saltgrass K-Bobs  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .14.99
Choice of beef Tenderloin, chicken Tenderloin or grilled shrimp with grilled red pepper, poblano pepper, red onion & mushrooms.

Served with a Dinner salad, Caesar salad or cup of soup plus your choice of a Lunch Side.

All Lunch entrées are served with Shiner Bock Beer Bread plus your choice of a Lunch Side, unless otherwise noted.

French Fries • Steak Fries • Garlic Mashed Potatoes • Romano Potatoes
French Fried Onions • Scampi Rice • Seasonal Veggies • Macaroni & Cheese

I ordered the beef Tenderloin Saltgrass K-Bobs with a dinner salad, dressed with bleu cheese dressing along with the lunch side of Seasonal Veggies.  I also enjoyed a couple of slices of their yummy Shiner Bock Beer Bread with butter and a tall unsweetened iced tea with lemon.

The bread was yummy and served first.  I didn’t want to eat just bread so I had a couple of slices while sipping my tea.  Luckily, we arrived before the lunch rush, so we didn’t have to wait too long for our food to be delivered.  First was the salad.  It wasn’t a bottomless portion – enough to whet the palate but not enough to stuff before the main course arrived, with about 5 or 6 small croutons and a tablespoon or two of bleu cheese.  YUM!

Then out came the main course!  I was pleased with the portion of the K-Bob.  I think there were four slices of beef tenderloin, cool in the center with several grilled veges right off the skewer; plus the lunch side of seasonal veggies, grilled – summer squash, tender carrots, broccoli, pepper – Mmmmmmm.

As I was eating – slowly, of course – I was constantly considering my tummy.  The food was excellent and my lunch companions interesting.  I find it very easy to just eat and talk so actually have to put my fork down and consider my plate carefully.  The beef, the vegetables, the bread.  SO yummy.  I ate slowly and about five bites before the veges were gone, I felt full.  I continued eating, finishing my vegetables.  Then I had five bites of Becki’s decadent key lime pie.  It melted in my mouth.  I loved it.

How often do I eat out at a restaurant as nice as Saltgrass?  RARELY.  How often do I face a plate of food so delicious I feel it’s a crime to walk away from it?  RARELY.   Premeditated over-eating.  I didn’t overeat to the point I thought I was going to burst from the inside out.  My dress didn’t bulge in the front.  I could still sit comfortably but I was definitely over-full.  Thank goodness the portions weren’t extreme and it wasn’t an all-you-can-eat dealio.


I thought about getting a to-go box but the meat wouldn’t have ever been cooked so rare and the veges would lose their crispness once nuked to reheat the meal.  I made a choice to finish everything.

Becki and I went to the gym after work.  I spent 28 minutes on a different elliptical rider, not certain if there’s another name for it, but I like it better.  I did the ‘fat burn’ workout, running 2.2 miles in 28 minutes.  It really helps having Britney Spears singing “Three” on loud enough to drown out the machines around me.  I replayed it a few times and made pretty good time.  I’m pleased with the increase in distance.

Then, we went our separate ways with our personal trainers.  Today I met Michael.  Michael’s goal for me is a well-rounded workout.  We did core work.  He showed me how to use a few different machines but made me work hard while I learned the simple moves which worked out my legs, my abs and arms.  I sweat, grunted and kept my heart rate up while we moved from machine to machine.  I like Michael.

We were going to swim, however, the pool water was chilly after so much sweating.  Bypassing the pool, we headed for the spa which was bubbly and warm.  Letting the jets pulsate over my back shoulder muscles and down my calves was relaxing.

Sauna time!  After hitting cardio levels on the elliptical rider (160 beats per minute) – sweating, a core workout maintaining a higher heart rate – sweating, and a hot spa, after only about four minutes in the sauna and I was ready to hit the showers.

I had grilled pork chop with Montreal Steak Seasoning and about 10 brussel sprouts with butter.  Chugged my H2Orange.

I’m tired but not exhausted.  I might just sleep well tonight.

Oh, I got on the scale this morning.  *grins*

2 2 0 . 5

I am celebrating my half pound loss!!  I had a sundress in my closet, snug around the waist.  After vowing not to wait too long to try my smaller outfits on, I pulled it out this morning.  I have a couple of inches of extra fabric around my abdomen.  I can handle the excruciatingly slow downward spiral on my scale, I know I can.

It’s rewarding to see my body changing shape.  I look down towards my stomach and my chest successfully hides my tummy from view.  It’s been a LONG time since I could say that!

Inches v Pounds

I got on my scale Friday morning and it said 221.  I was rather upset, disheartened.

Then Saturday night I put on my new little black dress.  It looks good!  Yes, I have some smoothing out I could do, a little curvier here and there but overall, except for the birthmark on my bum (where the angel kissed me when I was born) which is a small circular rise on my left hip area, I think I looked smokin’ hot, baby!  I received several compliments, a few in the form of male attention (!!!) but also a couple from women who I’ve been playing poker with for the past couple of years.  I was more than delighted!  My face hurt from smiling so much.

This morning, when I put on my dress for work, I had to cinch the belt to the hole furthest away from the end.  In order to continue using this belt as I lose, I’m going to have to punch a new hole in it.  (I vote I buy a new belt!)  I’m getting smaller, even if the weight isn’t just falling off.  Troy explained this would happen.  But.  I didn’t expect to bump into this yet.  I thought I’d drop several more pounds much sooner as I follow the yellow brick road to fitness; I like to see the change in my scale, not just my dress size.

I’m working hard.  Going to the gym four times per week, twice for weight training.  Today I did 1.65 miles in my 25 minutes at a rate of about 3.4 miles per hour.  My heart rate was steady around the ‘fat burn’ goal of 117’ish.  I know I should do more cardio.  At the moment though, I’m happy to be in the gym four times per week and I’m not going to kill myself trying to change my body in a few months.  I’ve contracted for a year.   I don’t want to burn out before I’ve barely begun.

Without too much convincing, Becki has embarked upon this great body-changing mission of mine.  She’s going to side-by-side weight train with me.  We can pick each other up, cajole each other on and go shopping for smaller sizes as we slim down.  Although I was ready and willing to do this on my own, I feel Becki’s support, mutually given, can make a world of difference on those days I feel less motivated.  She already knows I won’t shut up if she’s feeling the least bit lazy and I expect no less from her on my behalf!

At some point in my future, there is an abdominoplasty.  With four cesarean sections, my abdomen wall is more like a war zone than muscle.  I can’t imagine what it looks like from the inside but the outside makes me want to cry.  Not to mention the fact I have zero feeling from about two inches beneath my belly button to my pelvis bone.  I feel pressure only, no sensitivity whatsoever.  I doubt I’ll regrow nerve endings but hopefully I won’t have bruises show up without knowing how I got them!

I noticed I’m getting a little hungrier earlier in the day.  I used to go until about 11:30 AM before I felt the need to eat lunch, but now, sometime around 10 AM, I’m feeling peckish.  I’m going to buy some FiberOne Cereal and some roasted peanuts on payday this week and keep them in my filing cabinet at work.  I’ve been bringing fresh strawberries, eating about five of them for a morning hunger saver.  They go bad too quickly; I can’t eat them fast enough!  The kids will inhale and I’ll feel better about the $1.75 I spend on a quart of strawberries which get fully eaten vs. the ten strawberries I might eat at work.

Another thing.  My girls are shrinking.  I’m not sure how I feel about this particular change.  My DD’s are down to a D.  As a young girl, I was the President of the Itty, Bitty, You-Know-What Committee.  I remember, with fond recollection, the time my Mom told my Dad she was taking me to shop for bras.  My Dad actually reached into a cabinet, extracted a box of band-aids and offered them to me!  (Laughter is always the best medicine!)  I was a late bloomer!  I remember despairing any kind of real growth would occur!  And now, I’m watching them…. shrink.  Nooooooooooooo! When will the madness end???

A New Day

I’m feeling kind of… melancholy.

The entire family took Rebekah to college on Friday!  Road trip!  It was different being the lead car.  My Mom and Dad were always my lead car and now here I am, the Mom, in the lead car, while Joshua drove his car behind me.   It was an odd feeling.

Rebekah is attending university on a small campus.  I guess there are only about 400 students total, which sounds pretty cozy to me.  Having come from a graduating high school class of 650-odd students, this will be a nice change for Rebekah, more of a small town atmosphere vs. Katy/Houston.  I’m very excited for her!

Hannah is with her sperm donor this weekend.  Joshua is still at TJ’s and Ashley’s house, having been gone since Friday after we dropped Bekah off.  Matthew is at work and Ally is still asleep in their bedroom.

The house is quiet.

This is what it will be like when all of my children have grown up and moved away.  I’ve thought about this day often.  Since I’m still single and very much a people person – the first-born of five of a third born of nine (Mom) and a second born of four (Dad) and mother of  four myself, I have always had lots of commotion around me every day.  Very rarely am I alone with just my thoughts to keep me company.  This will be interesting.

I scrambled a few eggs and made a double espresso for myself.

As I think about what I will do with all my extra time, I think of how tidy my house will be with only me to mess it up!  I think of all the crocheting I can get done while I sit, watching movies, etc.  Lots of blankets and little baby things will be spun off my hook.  I am looking forward to this!  I’ve thought about volunteering at a local hospital, perhaps in the children’s wards or a local elderly home.  I remember visiting my grandfather at the Episcopal Church Home up in New York before he passed away many years ago.  I could definitely be a ray of sunshine!  I’ve also thought very, very seriously about fostering older children.  If there’s one thing I’ve done well, not perfectly mind you, but well, is be a Mom.  I always wanted a larger family and I have so much love in my heart for children of all ages.  I have great experience with children who have brain disorders, who learn and attend differently.  I would be a good foster Mom.  I could even adopt, too.

I need to finish getting my degree in English.  I think I’m going for a psych minor.  I’ve toyed with a history minor as well.  Once obtained, I could volunteer to teach children in different countries who aren’t as blessed as the United States (not that the US is the be all, end all, but we are definitely a nation blessed).  Sometimes I contemplate a psych major.  I would be an excellent social worker or guidance counselor.  But would I be able to leave my work at the front door when I come home every evening or would I continue to fret over situations of neglect and/or child abuse long after?  A serious consideration.

But I don’t know what’s in the plan for Donna.  In the dark of the night when I wake up alone, it’s just me and God.  He and I have had many interesting conversations; I think they’re conversations anyway.  I usually do most of the talking but fall back into a secure sleep once I’ve had them, so I know He’s heard me.  I’ll probably have a lot more time for daytime conversations with Him once all my kids have moved out.

For now though, it’s me and Hannah.  She still has a few years left of learning to do before she, too, can fly the coop.  I very much look forward to watching her blossom as I have watched each of my previous three.  My Mom tells me Hannah is most like me which means we’re at odds A LOT.  I am hoping this changes as Joshua, Matthew and Rebekah move on with their lives.  It will be different for Hannah just having her Mom around.

Motherhood has been my most rewarding and fulfilling task to date.  I wonder what comes next?

Poker Night!

I don’t eat nearly as much as I used to now that I only eat when I’m hungry.  As a result, I need to supplement my food intake with vitamins.  At first, I thought this can’t be good for me.  It must be much better to obtain my vitamins and minerals in food instead of via pill.  But, as time passed, I saw it works quite well.  I’m not suffering from any side effects, and in fact, my doctor is happier with my blood work than ever before.  So, now it’s completely normal for me to pop a handful of vitamins and eat less and I feel a lot better, too.

Calcium – 600 mg per day
Fish Oil – 1,200 mg per day
Woman’s Multi-Vitamin – One pill per day
L-Glutamine – 1,000 mg per day
Juice Plus – Twice A Day

I take the calcium because I don’t drink milk anymore.  I cook with it and maybe once a month, I have a tall glass with a handful of Oreo cookies.  You can’t eat Oreos without milk, right?  But I need my calcium.

Fish Oil – All kinds of wonderful heart healthiness including increasing your “good” cholesterol.  I have my “before and after” blood results from an independent lab while participating in the Naturally Slim program and saw the results myself.

Woman’s Multi-Vitamin.  Who doesn’t take a vitamin every day?

L-Glutamine – Curbs sugar cravings.  I used to be a hard-core chocaholic but, no more!  Now it’s only every once in a while, usually right before that time of the month, when I’ll indulge in my Cherry Ripe.  Not in a million years have I ever been able to stay away from chocolate before L-Glutamine.  And it’s not even one of the well-known reasons people take it.  YAY for anecdotal evidence!

Juice Plus – Fruit & Vegetable goodness!

I am just never ever again going to attempt to eat ALL the food from every food group we are told we should because it’s a “well-rounded” diet.  I don’t care if there are no calories, low calories, blah blah blah.  Eating when I’m not hungry or until I am past full is counter-productive to effective, long-term weight loss for me and I adamantly refuse to do it.  (Troy and I have words about this every time I see him!)

I’m sharing my experience as I trek towards toothsome because for the last 30 years, I have struggled to maintain a healthy weight, not even considering my level of fitness.  My goal is to live to see great-grandchildren and with my current weight and lifestyle, it will be miraculous if I manage to do it.  Losing weight is so freakin’ hard.  Everybody has an opinion about what SHOULD work.  I love it when the person telling me is still just as obese as I am.  Riiiiight.  Because, obviously, this has worked for you?  *sarcasm dripping*

I’m on my way down.  I haven’t been told I can’t have chocolate or beer or donuts.  YEAH!  I like food.  I LIKE FOOD!   Dipping Oreos in a cold cup of milk just long enough the outside layer of chocolate is a little soggy but the cookie still crunches between my teeth when I bite.  Ohh!   So yummy!  Boneless chicken strips dipped in Marie’s Chunky Blue Cheese Dressing – Indescribable!  I’ve tried so many diets which had me weighing, counting and measuring.  If I ate three bites of chicken with dressing, I’d have to refrain from eating the rest of the day!!  But, but, but I’m still hungry!!!  Not only that, but the time commitment required to do all those things feel like such a waste of time to me.  I can’t do them when I’m at Jean’s eating her yummy fajitas or Becki’s when we grill by the pool or at Ruby Tequila’s.

Having started at 257 back in August of last year, I now weigh 221 pounds.  That’s a 36 pound loss, having maintained during the holidays, never fluctuating more than a few pounds upwards.  It’s not an earth-shattering difference but it matters.  My first goal, discussed with Troy, Obstructor of Obesity, is to get down to a size 14.  It’s not a weight goal.  I have a lot of weight to lose and I don’t want to sabotage my efforts by overwhelming myself.  So, I made a size goal instead.

As I’ve lost weight, going down size by size, I’ve emptied my closet of the larger sized clothes.  I don’t ever want to be hovering around a size 22 again.  E V E R.  I didn’t like my reflection in the mirror, wouldn’t let the kids post my photos on Facebook if they managed to take one.  I can’t afford to go out and by new, bigger clothes so if I get on the scale and it grunts, I think about my intake.  Did I overeat at all during the last week?  Were the fries at Wendy’s really THAT good?  No, no they weren’t.  I could have eaten fewer and been just as satisfied with the flavor.  In fact?  Next time, I’m just going to order the spicy chicken sandwich because the fries leave me disappointed.  If I’m going to eat a french fry, it won’t be from Wendy’s.

Today, Michael the Mellow was my trainer.  We worked on my arms, chest and abs.  He was a lot easier on me than Troy is.  In his defense, it was the first time we worked together and I forgot my workout journal.  Not his fault.

Tonight is poker night!  Texas Hold’Em starts at 7 PM at the Triple Crown Sports Bar!  It’s been a while since I indulged.  The last time I was there…  I got a little silly.  We’ll leave it at that, eh?  Becki’s home from Israel, Joshua’s off the rig and it’s time to play!  I’m going to drink my Blue Moon with orange and I’m going to make the final table at poker and I’m going to get tipsy, tipsy, tipsy and then I’m going to sing bad karaoke and love every single minute of it.  At some point, I will consume a couple of pieces of pizza.  I’m going to go in hungry though because it doesn’t matter what I put into my stomach, hunger is a requirement before eating in my brave new world.

Consider the Source

I have this great purse.  I received it as a gift from Leslie, one of the young women I worked with at Blue Haven Pools a few years ago.  It is the Most Amazing Purse Ever.  It’s my “traveling purse”.  Whenever I get on an airplane, regardless of the reason, this is the purse I will travel with.

As I walk through the airport carrying it, the facial expressions of the people around me are telling:  horrified looks from the very obviously fashion-aware, haughty sideways glances from eyes afraid to meet mine when I turn and look and my favorite, heads shaking from side to side.  There’s also the shy smile from toddlers, girls and boys alike, who want to touch, petting my purse as they absorb the soft, pleasing texture of the feathers and “oh-hell-yeah” nods from discerning lovers-of-all-things-pink, the camaraderie instantaneous.

My purse is black satin, with lips cut out in different shades of red, pink and orange, also satin, proclaiming “Kiss” and “Me” in white embroidered cursive letters.  It has one black strap with a pink drawstring, black inner lining and a hot pink feather boa sewn around the upper edge.  When I received the purse, I instantly fell in love with it.  Leslie was dead-on when she gifted me with it.  It screams, “Donna!!”

Not a chance anyone’s going to steal it, eh?  You’d see them running a mile away, pink feather boa providing instantaneous identification!

I love this purse!

Wouldn’t it be sad to leave it on the shelf in my bedroom closet, afraid of what other people might think as a I meander through the airport?

I’m not sure why some people feel it’s necessary to pass judgment.  Glares, sneers and snickers, cruel comments, pointing and even worse, causing physical injury.  I remember it starting as early as elementary school.  Children can be so cruel.  Junior High is the worst – young girls are very catty and boys start serious bullying.  As adults, we judge differently, thinking no one notices or sees.  We develop sarcasm and indifference.

I remember many an occasion during my school years when I’d be hurt by some comment made to me by a classmate.  My Mom and I would talk about the person who made the remark.  What kind of person is he/she?  How do they behave in school?  Are they considerate of others?  Do they pick on more than just me?  Do they have good grades?  What kind of reputation do they have?  Are they mean-spirited all the time?  My Mom always went one step further though.  She’d remind me that regardless of what I see in school, they go home.  And we’d speculate what it might be like for that person once they walk in their own front door.  Are their parents interested in their friends?  In what they did all day at school?  Do they talk about any problems they might be experiencing?  Or do they come home to disinterest and abuse or neglect?  I learned how to forgive others for judging me.

Consider the source.  When I hear comments about my purse or my parenting skills or my weight or my exuberant personality, I consider the source.  Do I really care what this person thinks of me?  Probably 98% of the time, I don’t.

I think about all the fun I’m having and wish they could experience the great freedom not conforming brings.

Balancing Act

Sometimes I feel as if I’m being pulled in too many different directions.  Rebekah’s financial aid hadn’t completely processed, her dorm fees overdue and unless everything was sorted, she had no meal plan upon arrival on Friday.  Joshua came home, off the rig after his first hitch extended to almost a month (he didn’t mind one bit!) but I’m a Mom first, last and always, wondering how he REALLY liked it and if he was sugar-coating his experiences so I don’t worry.  Boys do that, you know.  Then, I came home to toilets backed up into bathtubs, slow sewers and in the end?  A main line block.  In the midst of all this, I had to call Hannah’s father, asking him to watch her for a week while I travel on business next month.

I sat down to write my blog last night and felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.  I was stressed, snapping at the kids, waiting to find out what the water guy thought out about the backed up toilets, worrying somehow something we did inside the house has caused this mess which means I have to pay for it.  I finally fell into bed after 11:30 PM.  The tubs were still backed up, the toilets not flush-able and I had to get up for work in 6.5 hours.  Dear God, please let the tubs empty enough so I can take a quick shower in the morning and then call the landlord to get this sorted.  Please, please, please.  I was distracted, not happy with what I posted yesterday.

I woke up at 2 AM and checked on the tub in the master bath.  Empty.  With a sigh of relief, I grabbed a small bucket and cleared away the debris which had bubbled up and sprayed a mixture of water and bleach all over the tub.  I’ll get my shower in the morning!  At 6 AM, I didn’t even procrastinate, getting right out of bed and into the shower.  Cleaned up quick and off to work.  Traffic was light.  The Roula and Ryan Show was playing on KRBE, great music blasting at intervals.  Breathe in, breathe out.

A small pot of fresh Starbucks Kenya coffee perked behind me as I sifted through email sent overnight by my fellow employees all over the world.  Watching the clock tick tick tick until I felt comfortable calling my landlord.

Depending on someone else to do the right thing is difficult for me.  If I had the proper tools?  I’d have googled everything and plumbed the depths of my mainlines all on my own.  The kids and I would have found the clean out in the backyard, snaked the heck right out of it and HA!  Done.  But – ACK – I can’t own every tool I need to complete every task which might come along!!!  DARN IT!

I called the landlord and had to listen to her comment about how the owner has to make two house notes every month.  How his wife is a stay-at-home mother and they have four or five or a hundred children, and how tight money is for them.  Can you get estimates, Donna, so I can call the owner and let him know his options?  REALLY????  Is this my job????  But I want the situation taken care of before plumbers start charging overtime and the owner decides he can’t to take care of the problem today.   In a perfect world, with a smile, a nod and perhaps a come-hither flutter of my eyelashes (maybe a chicken or a goat), the plumber would come over instantly, fix the problem and I’d be set.  Unfortunately, they all want money.  *eyes wide*  What is that about?

I’m now feeling as if I my decision to contract for a physical trainer was not well-thought out.  Perhaps I should have waited.   Bekah’s dorm fees and meal plan are a priority.  I drank my coffee and called plumbers.  Roto-Rooter to the rescue!  I’m certain another plumber could have done the job for less, but Roto-Rooter didn’t require payment for an estimate, so the landlord chose them.  With a 10 AM to 2 PM window, I waited on the verdict.  In the meantime, the landlord decides she wants to meet with Roto-Rooter at the house so she can explain everything in great detail to the owner.

Maybe I’m weird?  Perhaps a little OCD?  I don’t like strangers in my house.  If you knock on my door, just like anywhere else, I’m going to be chipper, kind, considerate, attentive.  But, don’t ask to cross my threshold.  Now you’re in my space.  You only get to come into my space if you’re invited.  She was definitely NOT invited.  And she was on her way.  I dashed out of the office and went home.

Long story short (now, don’t be hating, I tried to keep this short!), the lines are clean, the landlord paid for it!

Even five years ago, I’d have broken down by now.  I’d have popped an Atavan just thinking about having to call Hannah’s Dad.  Talking to your ex-abuser, even ten years after the fact, is still not an easy task.  I’m completely in control but always aware of the abyss of selfishness he lives in – which, unfortunately, can still hurt my girls.  I’d have closed the door to my office and had a good cry, just to relieve the stress.  Today, I took  a deep breath, made the call, ignored him while he rambled on about reasons why he might not be able to care for his own daughter for one week, waiting patiently for him to just say yes or no.  He got to ‘yes, unless…’ and conversation over.

While waiting for the landlord to call back and confirm which plumber to use, I received a package from Scentsy – I finally bought the Doodlebug pot and the Home Sweet Home wax.  It smells like the cherry tobacco my Dad used to smoke when I was very young!

Bekah popped up on MSN Messenger proclaiming all of her funds had hit her account at the university today.  Originally not anticipated until Monday!

Jean popped up on Skype, sharing how much she enjoyed last night’s blog and especially the second half of the Serenity Prayer.  She’s glad it’s not just about losing weight, but personal as well.

While waiting for the plumber to call with his exact arrival, I went to lunch with Cristina and Billy  (his treat!) enjoying yet another half of a fajita burger at Ruby Tequila’s.  Mmmmmm.

After the plumber and the landlord left, I called the gym to find out if I had to reschedule my appointment.  There wasn’t any way I was going to make a 4:30 PM appointment when it was already 4:20 PM and I had to negotiate drive-time traffic.   Troy said not to worry!  He’d be there for me when I arrived.

Almost on my way out the door, an envelope arrived with a gift from a wonderful friend who decided to help me buy a new iPod since mine went missing at the gym.  I’ve never been one to place expectations on a gift so when I opened the envelope, grateful for the kindness of a small contribution, imagine my surprise and delight when it was for $200!!!

After a painful workout of my legs and 30 minutes of cardio, I showered and came back home.  I could hear the washing machine at work in the garage – Rebekah was doing laundry.  Ally (Matthew’s girlfriend) was stationed at the kitchen sink, filling the dishwasher!

Today was stressful.  Seriously, for me.  But amidst all of that stress, I was blessed by so many people who I love and who love me in return.

I’ve learned how to embrace all the little blessing which come my way, one by one, each and every day.  Everything else is diminished as a result.


Stay on the happy side

I have always had this endless effervescence.  My Mother can tell you about the time my high school called.  I get a kick out of this story.  When you think of all the drama happening in schools across America today, can you imagine getting a phone call telling you your daughter is just too darn happy?

“Mrs. Smith?  We’re concerned about Donna.”

“Oh really?  What’s wrong?”

“Well, Donna is very happy.”

“Very happy?”

“Yes, Donna is just too happy.  We believe she may be using drugs.”

What a leap, eh?

My demeanor hasn’t really changed much since then.  I have been answering phones since I rejoined the workplace ten years ago.  Receptionist, Office Manager, Executive Assistant.  I consider it very high praise when I answer the phone, the caller having called several times before, and hear “You’re always so happy, Donna.  It’s such a pleasure to speak with you.  You really make my day!”  I hear it a lot and seriously, I’m flattered.  It’s not something I work hard at; it’s naturally part of my personality.

How many times have you gone through the check out line and had a miserable cashier?  Imagine for a moment what his/her job entails.   You can assist a couple of hundred customers each shift:  Moms with over-tired children trying to complete the weeks shopping, husbands stopping on the way home because the wife needed something (My Dad always picked up milk on his way home!), underage attempts at purchasing alcohol, customers with inadequate funds who have to pick through already bagged groceries to choose what they must put back, WIC checks, language barriers, people trying to use three coupons for the same item, grumpy old/young men/women.  It’s an endless list.  I cashiered for 1.5 years for H-E-B.  I know what it’s like!!  My kids will ask me not to talk to the cashier when we approach the registers.  They know me well!

“Mom, you’re not going to talk to the cashier, right?”

Riiight!  I can’t not be friendly.  I don’t know how!

“Yes, I’m going to talk to the cashier and maybe I’ll ask where the condoms/tampons are!”  (A mother’s revenge!)

It’s very rare when I leave behind a cashier who hasn’t smiled or laughed.  I always walk away hoping I’ve made their day just a little bit brighter, maybe given enough spirit so when the next miserable customer shows up, they offer a smile and pass it on.

There’s mischief, mayhem, murder and marauding going on every day around us.  Is it necessary to internalize all that angst? Is it not enough to acknowledge its existence but not sink into the morass?

We’ve all heard it a hundred times, The Serenity Prayer, but have you ever heard it entirely?  The first portion provides us with a goal; the second bit, however, gives us directions.

The Serenity Prayer  by Reinhold Niebuhr

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

There’s a song I remember, must have been from Girl Scouts, but I’m not sure.  The lyrics and tune stuck with me and when googled, it popped up as “Stay on the sunny side”.  I’ve always known it as “Stay on the happy side”.

Stay on the happy side,
Always on the happy side,
Stay on the happy side of life!
You will feel no pain as I drive you insane,
Stay on the happy side of life!

Jokes follow, we all fall into gales of laughter and start singing all over again.

Life is like that in my family.  We have our ups, we have our downs, we bicker, disagree, discuss, every once in a while, get angry – but always, we fall into gales of laughter and start all over again.

A Pink Skirt and Plates

When you’re overweight, you’re patently aware of your size, especially in a clothing store.  I think they’ve changed the sizes up as we’ve become a larger society.  I could be wrong.  I always thought a size 16 was smaller than what I look at in the mirror now.  I remember being a 14 after I had Matthew, before I got pregnant with Bekah.  When I look at pictures, I look small.

I’ve had a pink skirt suit in my closet for the past two years.  I love the style.  It has old-fashioned sleeves, the kind that are tight up to a couple of inches before the wrist and then fall into a flounce?  A button up front with two giant pink buttons and a collar you can either button up or let fall forward to form a v-neck.  It’s pink!  I HAD to get it even though I was too big for it.  Every few months, I’d take it out and try it on.  It was always too snug on top and definitely too snug around my waist and abdomen.  This morning, I took it out, just for giggles.  I knew it was going to be too small still because I haven’t lost that much weight or inches.  I took the skirt off the hanger and when I unzipped it, I thought, whoa, this is big.  Stepped into it and yep.  About an inch too big.  But I didn’t care.  I buttoned and zipped.  Slipped my arms into the top and I was crushed.  It’s so big that its TOO big.  I can’t explain the mixed emotions.  I wore it anyway.  Twirled about, feeling small, knowing it was going to get washed and then handed down to friends who are fighting the same battle as I am.  But I wore it once!

This is the second time I’ve done this in the past four months.  At the beginning of the summer, I had a pretty black dress, a bit longer than my calves, with small white polka dots all over it, sleeveless with a matching jacket.  Too small for me, too small for me, too small for me, then one day – Presto!  TOO BIG.  It just happened.

I’m fashion unconscious.  Both of those outfits could have hung in my closet for ten years and when I finally fit into them, I would have worn them regardless.  But I bypassed them both.  And they were two different sizes.  One is a 20 and one is an 18.   And I’m in a 16!!!


Smaller plates have been very helpful to me.  We have dinner plates, salad plates, pasta bowls, etc.  I have a few large dinner plates left in my everyday cupboard.  As they break, I don’t replace.  Lately, Bekah and I have been wandering through the dishes aisle at the Family Thrift Center across the highway from us.  I specifically avoid dinner plates.  We buy salad plates and bowls only.  The girls and I eat off the salad plates now.  Matthew?  We still give him a dinner plate!

It’s important to realize my stomach can only hold so much food comfortably.  Filling up a dinner plate is detrimental to my waist line, but filling up a salad plate?  Not such a bad thing!  I fill my salad plate up only once.  I eat what my taste buds are craving the most, it varies from day-to-day.  We all know what we crave when we think of a certain dinner menu.  FAJITA BURGER!  I don’t even have to touch a french fry, but boy, that burger and me, we’re going to get up close and comfortable and it’s going to be sloooowww goood!  If I savor my burger, letting the flavors roll across my tongue, the texture of the guacamole, the sautéed onions, the cheese – treating each bite as if it were my last bite of food ever – I’ll be comfortably full by the time I finish only half.  Then I don’t take another bite of anything.  Not even the fries.  If I can feel the fries calling to me, I indulge in only one or two.  Just like with the burger, I savor the flavor.  If it’s a soggy fry?  EW.  I won’t even bother because there will be absolutely no satisfaction having a soggy fry on my tongue.

I picked up the pace on the elliptical rider today at the gym, managing to cover 1.5 miles in my 25 minutes.  Hannah let me borrow her iPod until I can get another one for myself.   Troy and I scheduled my training sessions for Wednesdays after work and Saturdays at Noon.  He had the nerve to suggest 9:00 AM workouts on Saturday.  I’m pretty sure everyone in the gym heard me laugh hysterically at that one!  I don’t know what he was thinking.

Are people awake that early on the weekend?

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