Istood in the kitchen. Shirt pulled slightly up and tucked under my chin. Waistband pulled slightly down. I opened the junk drawer and found it. The tape measure. The tape measure and I had not spoken for years. The scale and I had the same relationship. We were estranged. Honestly, I’m not sure what made me pull it out that day. I mean, I hadn’t exercised in eons. So it wasn’t like I was needing to see how many inches I had lost because of the amazing number of crunches I’d been doing. Maybe I just felt like torturing myself that day. Who knows? But for whatever reason, I took a deep breath, sucked it all in and wrapped that 60 inches of tape around my midsection to find my number.
I think I died a little inside that day.
Depending on where your mouse lands when you google “what’s a healthy waist measurement”, this number should be anywhere between 31.5 and 35 inches if you’re a woman. Around 40 inches if you’re a man. I’m tall and I’ve always carried more weight in my belly. In other words, I’ve never been a “Twiggy” but in my younger, healthier days, my waistline was at least in the high range of being a-ok. So I figured in spite of all the weight I’d gained over the years , I was probably at least in the healthy man range.
I wasn’t. Not even close.
Deeming the tape measure defective, I threw it in the nearest trash can as quickly as I could. There was no reason to keep such negativity in my life after all !! Ugh!! But the number on the white tape had already left it’s mark on me. I cried out in despair and defeat, “HOW CAN THAT BE?”
I added it to my Click List order. (side note…..if you live near a Kroger and they offer Click List, DO IT!! You’ll never walk into another grocery store again if you can help it!) It’s completely possible if I had to find the tape measure on the shelf myself ,I may have just skipped over it. Because really? Where the heck are tape measures in a grocery store?? But I figured the nice Kroger employee doing my shopping for me would know where it lived and not die with frustration searching the store for it. I got my groceries home and started emptying out the bags. I was way more excited to see that blasted tape measure than I was my bag of whole wheat pasta! I finally found it. My new tape measure was pink.
I stood there in my kitchen and held this girly pink thing. As excited as I was by my $2.25 purchase, I was equally intimidated by it. The first time I wrapped this indicator of my girth around my parts was several months into my weight loss journey. I was in the first week of a new workout program and it felt like a good time for a reality check. But I admit it was still scary. I had thoughts of the last time I had measured my mid section running through my mind and I simply wasn’t sure I wanted to know this number again. By this point in time, I’d lost over 50 lbs. I knew in the rational part of my brain that my measurements would be smaller. My number on the scale was less and my clothes had a new lower number. But the irrational part of me was still screaming “IT’S ALL A FLUKE!!!”
I put on my brave face and wrapped my new pink tape measure around my waist. I closed my eyes and prayed, “Lord this is just a number. It’s not an indicator of my worth or my ability. No matter the number this tape measure lands on, I will praise You.”
I opened my eyes. Placed my finger on the spot that would be my number for the day and I looked. It was still larger than “Dr. Google” deemed healthy but by golly. It was less than it was that day a few years ago. A FOOT LESS! A foot!!!
I continued with my daily workouts. I continued putting the right food in my mouth. I continued praising God for all He’s done for me the past 9 months. And 50 days later, I measured again.
And once again, I exclaimed, “How can that be?”
But this time it was an exclamation filled with joy not despair or defeat. It was an exclamation filled with gratitude not shame. It was an exclamation that caused me to pause and thank the One who changed me.
“For this I will praise You, O Lord, among the nations, and sing praises to Your Name.”…2 Samuel 22:50
If you just love being on a diet, raise your hand…
As I sit here waiting for nobody to raise their hands, let me finish my fat free cottage cheese and mandarin oranges! I have serious love for this stuff! I’d almost take it instead of ice cream…almost! Seriously! I’m fighting the urge to go grab another bowl of curdly cheesy orange love. Cottage cheese was once the food of my dieting nightmares. Now I crave it like it was ice cream! Oh my word!! Who am I??
Truth is, if someone caught me eating cottage cheese they’d probably ask me if I was on a diet. Oh how I hate that word! Honestly, when someone talks about “going on a diet”, I just wanna cringe! I. HATE. DIETS !!! I’ve been on dozens of them throughout my life. And in spite of the fact that many of these diets helped me lose weight, not one of them was successful. Every single time I’ve gone on a diet, I’ve ended up overweight again. Every single time was just progressively worse than the time before.
I think I’ve found a “sweet spot” though that will keep me from ever having to “diet” again. I’ve pinpointed five things I’m doing that I’m certain will keep me from boomeranging back to where I was in this before picture. And because I like to share , I’ve written these things down for any of my “dieting” friends who may need a boost.
Picture on the left was a year ago. The snazzy dressing room selfie was a few weeks ago . I hate dressing room selfies by the way. But I couldn’t help myself because I was a bit stunned at the “smaller than I’ve been in 16 years” size jeans I was comfortable wearing. I waited until I was back in my car before I allowed the tears of joy to begin dripping from my eyes.
(Side note…I’m not a weight loss expert even though I did work as a Weight Watchers leader many years ago. I’m not even a nutrition specialist. I’m just someone who’s walked this road a time or two and learned a few things along the way. )
1. Find your proper motivation…
Honestly, if your motivation is to lose some weight and get to a certain number, that’s not enough! I’ve been there done that. When all I wanted was to be several pounds under 200, this motivation alone failed me in the end. Because once I got to that elusive number, I celebrated the “end of the road”. And you know what happened? I got lazy again. I got a bit cocky thinking I no longer needed to do all the things I had been doing that got me to this point. I had arrived and now I could relax. That worked for me for a while. But Picture One up there is the proof of my failure in making a number my motivation.
That “getting to xxx-pounds” can be a good start, but a better lifelong motivator needs to go deeper than that. EVERY DAY I want to feel amazing. EVERY DAY I want to be able to get up and move and groove and enjoy life with my family and friends and not ache because of sugar induced inflammation. I want to be able get up off the floor without needing help. I want to be able to cross my legs and bend over to tie my shoes. I want good numbers at EVERY yearly physical as a result of my good health choices. These goals motivate me more to a lifetime of good choices than simply reaching that number well under 200!
2.Give yourself a fair chance to create new habits…
How many times have you started a “diet” and given up within a couple weeks? I’ve done this too many times to count. When I think about why I gave up so many times it usually boils down to a huge lack of patience with myself. Those first few days of exercising were hard and I didn’t like getting sweaty or being out of breath and really? Who has time for such things? Then it was hard to drink enough water or to cook more and eat out less or to simply keep track of what I put in my mouth all day long. Those times I gave up too soon were also the times I didn’t give myself enough time to break my old bad habits and create new healthy ones.
The “researchers” ….whoever they are…say it takes 21 days to bust out of a bad habit and create a new one. But I say be patient even beyond 21 days. That new habit may be created but in my own experience it’s gonna take a bit longer to make sure it sticks..to get to the point where drinking water and exercising and picking up an apple instead of a brownie is just second nature. Once all the good habits become second nature, your chances of ever having to be on a diet again diminish greatly!
3.Believe you can do this…
From the day I had a “weight loss expert” tell me losing weight was just harder for women in their 50’s, I stopped believing I was even able. I filled my head with all the lies of “I can’t”. And I was totally right. As long as I believed I was unable to lose weight, I was doomed to a life of being overweight. I could start with a decent attitude but the second I allowed doubt to slip in , it was all over. Such a vicious , ugly cycle that lead to a “diet mentality”. Yuck!!
If you want to stop that vicious cycle, you MUST get the words “I can’t” out of your vocab!! You CAN eat vegetables. You CAN skip dessert. You CAN exercise every day. You CAN do every single thing it takes to get healthy. You CAN do all the hard things AND live to tell about them! Believe all these “I can” statements. Write them on sticky notes and put them where you can see them . Fill your sweet head with the truth that you can do this . BELIEVE IT! It’s true after all! This simple change in believing in yourself will be a big part of stopping the diet yo yo.
4.Be willing to do things differently…
Are you a creature of habit like I am? I can certainly get set in my ways. And I was pretty darn set on ice cream every night after dinner… and don’t you dare offer me the no sugar added variety! Yuck! Three cups of coffee every morning with enough Extra Extra creamer to make my black coffee the color of my favorite white sandy beach. Resting every day during the kids nap time…do not make me get up off the couch for anything please! I had some pretty solid, not very healthy habits. For so long,the thought of changing any of my routines made me cringe. But the day came when I knew I had to.
And seven months into this new journey of healthy disciplines, I’ve come to realize I still need to be open to doing things differently every so often. Why? Because my weight loss stalls from time to time. This happens mostly when I get in a rut of eating the same foods, doing the same workouts and basically fall into a bit of boredom with all the things. When I start to feel even a smidge of the ho-hum, I’m far more likely to fall into that “diet mentality”. I’m far more likely to skip the workout, eat bigger portions, run for the full sugar ice cream! Left unchecked,this leads to finding a seat on a roller coaster you will get very few thrills from!!
5.Don’t put time limits on your goals…
“I must lose 50 lbs by Christmas”
“Losing ten pounds a month is necessary for me to be successful.”
I can’t count on both hands the number of times I’ve put limits on myself. Some were realistic. Most were not. A few of my self made limits were met. And when they weren’t? Well, cue the wah-wah music. Utter defeat. Failure. Feelings of worthlessness and weakness set in. And most of the time, those unmet timed goals lead to gigantic steps in the wrong direction.
Being healthy, eating right and losing weight isn’t a sprint with a big old fancy finish line at the end. Treat it as such and B A M!! You’ve arrived. You’ve achieved your goal. You’re done. And now you don’t have to worry about that stinking old “diet” anymore. Surely we all know what happens next.
As long as you have a heart that’s beating and breath in your lungs, that journey to your healthiest self isn’t over. There are no time limits to your healthy goals. Eating right and exercising isn’t a punishment we must endure as penance for being overweight. It’s a reward for a life well lived.
Set goals for yourself. Goals are good. But time restraints on a plan to lose weight could backfire. Make it a LIFETIME goal to do all the right things, to eat well and move more. If that’s your lifetime goal, the weight will come off and stay off.
And you’ll never have to go on another “diet”again. Ever.
I’ll end with a prayer for you from my favorite encouraging book…the Bible.
“Dear Friends, I pray that you may enjoy GOOD HEALTH and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. Lord help these friends show discipline in their bodies and keep them under control. Whatever they eat or drink, whatever they do, may they do it all for the glory of God.”
Several weeks ago , I stopped and had lunch at the wonderful “Christian chicken” restaurant my son works for. It’s always fun to sorta sneak in there amongst the crowd of famished travelers, shoppers and parents entertaining their preschoolers and just watch my youngest do his thing. I had a hard time being sneaky that day though. He saw me as soon as I graced the side door entrance with my presence.
Now for my fellow WW friends, the Lord’s chicken palace is a great place to get a super low point meal. The grilled chicken nuggets have ZERO POINTS! That means GIVE ME ALL THE GRILLED CHICKEN PIECES…..PLEASE! They really are yummy! Plop them on top of your side salad and tada! You’ve got yourself a nice and healthy fast food meal for 3 measly points. Now isn’t it odd that the salad has more points than the chicken? Darn you cheese !!!
Speaking of c h e e s e, you may have heard about this new Mac and Cheese that God Himself created and gave to CFA. My son came home with a bowl of this deliciousness one afternoon after he got off work. Because he’s smart, he added a spicy chicken filet and some bacon pieces into it. I sat across my very own kitchen table from him and was in some sort of trance as I beheld his holy creation. I couldn’t move. Mainly because I was afraid Six Months Ago Me would take over and demand every bite of my kid’s food. I sat there and prayed (of course I did!), came to my senses and calmly asked if I could have one small bite of his Mac and Cheese Delight. He glared at me for a second, probably going over in his mind if he wanted to be a good son and fully support my weight loss goals OR be a good son and hand over a single bite of his food before I bit off one of his arms. There was a thin line there! I got the bite. I don’t know if this was a win or not because that one bite was so dadgum amazing it left me wanting to steal food from a baby. Hmmmm…..I behaved. But hey? Is it stealing food from a baby when said “baby” is a 6 ft 4 grown man?
Anyway, back to my original story before I got distracted by the Mac and Cheese of Jesus. On this particular day I was feeling mighty and strong in my resolve to eat well and make good choices. I got my grilled chicken nuggets and my well-done fries (I needed Points SOMEWHERE in this lunch) and topped it off with a refreshing diet lemonade. My sweet son came over and gave me the excellent news that his boss wanted to give me a gift….a peach milkshake!
Oh! My! Word!
A P E A C H M I L K S H A K E!! I’m certain this is what I’ll ask for on my death bed and I’m pretty sure that my mansion in heaven will have a milkshake machine that only makes peach shakes…oh and banana pudding!
I smiled at my precious son , my heart full of such love for this man-child of mine who had the power to bring me the gift of sweet , creamy, Georgia-peachy joy! Then he looked at me , shrugged his shoulders and said, “I told her you were on a diet and probably wouldn’t want it, though. She’s pretty insistent. What do you think?”
Oh the dilemma!!!! So I pulled out my WW app and like every great weight watching person diligently seeking their best and most well self, I looked up the Point value of a large peach shake. Because I COULD just have it and count the points and go about my day. But my jaw dropped flat to the ground because it became pretty evident that the “powers that be” did not clue in to the fact that all dreamy ice creamy treats at the Christian chicken place should NOT count as a a full day of Points plus some! Oh my gracious sakes alive!
Suddenly I was singing “let the devil know not today!” in my head and looking in my purse for the holy water to sprinkle all over this temptation! But my precious son was right….I did, in fact, no longer want the delectable treat I had so kindly been offered.
I sent him back to work, feeling strong and good about my decision to skip the shake. As I sat there proudly munching on my ZERO POINT chicken nuggets, she came to my table. TheFood Pusher. The really sweet and with great intentions Food Pusher. He was right, though…she was pretty insistent on gifting me that day. She offered me a small instead of a large…thank you but still no. Then I told her about my weight struggles and how far I’d come to overcome those obstacles. Our banter went back and forth for many minutes and it became clear to me our thoughts on getting healthy in our 50’s were a bit different. I also began feeling I needed to accept something from her so I asked for a lesser of the ice cream evils … a frosted DIET lemonade. That satisfied her need to gift me and I felt like I was still in control of my choices. For the record, I could have THREE small frosted diet lemonades for the same points value as that large peach milkshake! Jesus take the wheel!!!
Truth is, I should’ve passed on the ice cream treat altogether. I walked into lunch that day strong and with great resolve. I knew what I wanted to eat. I had my plan. But I let someone else’s plan for me break through and rule for a minute.
Friends, we will all have to face Food Pushers as we work towards our health and weight goals. It’s just inevitable unless you live under a rock or in a far off space station orbiting a distant planet all alone. People generally like to share food. It’s a means of entertaining. Of saying “Hey I like you…join me”. Sometimes we’re gonna feel weak and give in. We’ll believe the lie that we “deserve” this treat. We’ll believe the lie that one bite won’t set us back! Believe me….ONE BITE can absolutely wake up a sleeping sugar monster inside you and remind him he’s famished!!! We’ll believe for a minute depriving ourselves of the treat in question is bad and giving in to it is our due reward.
You know what you truly deserve, though? Not the brownie or the milkshake or the 61 point Texas sized nachos!!! Yes, they DO exist! You certainly don’t deserve the massive amount of guilt you’ll feel afterwards either! You deserve believing YOU ARE WORTH MORE!! More than the”here now , gone in a flash” satisfaction of a few guilt-ridden bites . You deserve to feel amazing about your decision to eat healthier and to take control of what you put inside your body…no matter what anybody says!! Stand firm in YOUR convictions. Don’t let them be swayed by someone who doesn’t believe in you like you do!!
Let me take a minute and speak to anyone reading this who may be an unknowing Food Pusher. Please stop it!!! It’s nothing personal when someone politely tells you no thank you when you offer them something to eat. I promise!! Speaking from experience, I normally always want whatever someone is offering me . If I could eat all those delicious brownies you made and take them home with me and eat them in the bathtub full of bubbles I would. But what I really need is simply your support of my decision to eat healthy and be healthier no matter what your own opinion is !!
Now I just wanna speak to the person in the mirror. Can we just stop a minute and admit that we are way too often our own worst enemy? We can self sabotage like it’s our job some days. What then? What if the food temptations around you are so strong you just know you’re gonna crumble?
Walk away! Go outside. Take a walk. Just go into another room!
Bring to mind or pull up an old “before” picture or a picture of yourself at your goal weight!
Eat something better! I always have fruit around to grab in hunger emergencies. If the temptations are in your own kitchen, throw them out! It’s OK! If you just can’t throw out food because of all the starving children in the world and all that, I get that! Give it to a neighbor or box up all the tempting delicacies and donate them to a local food bank.
Pray! I’m serious!! Lord give me strength is a great little “flair prayer” even if you have to repeat it a dozen times before you feel an ounce of strength.
Repeat encouraging phrases. Write them on note cards and keep them at your fingertips. Words like I am strong! I can do this! I am worth more! Being healthy will feel better than this will taste! Whatever works for you!!
One of my favorite things to remember when I feel weak is simply a verse from scripture. It’s this…
I remember I can eat that brownie. Or that bowl of cheese dip. Or that ice cream. It will always be available for me. I’m allowed to have it. It’s not taboo! However, it’s not necessarily beneficial for me. It’ll make me feel bad. I’ll probably feel a twinge of guilt. Really, nothing good will come from it! So I decide to not let any food be the boss of me…and trust me I know some pretty loud and bossy food!! I think about all the years food mastered me. When I lived to eat and eat some more! When food was a great source of entertainment for me! And it makes me mad…and sad…and determined to be the master of what I eat and drink and not the other way around!
So Food Pushers, I love you! But I’m gonna choose to love myself more!
I remember the day and the humiliation like it was yesterday. Standing in line with my 6th grade classmates in a warm , muggy gym in Arkansas USA. It was a day I dreaded every year once the powers-that-be declared it was important to know the height and weight and general fitness level of all little kids in elementary school. I dreaded it for many reasons. My fitness level was down around zero. I never liked exercising or playing any sort of sport. I guess that came from a lack of coordination, which I’m certain came from my very fast growth spurts. This particular school year it was all extra bad though. The summer I turned 11 was a painful one for me…literally! I had grown to the height of a giant, leaving all my friends looking like I could be their teenage babysitter. I can still feel those growing pains!!
So after going through a drill of excruciating tests that once again proved my total lack of fitness, I was made to stand on a scale, a line of class mates behind me waiting their turns. The girl who went before me was a perfect 4 ft something or other and weighed in at about 70 lbs. She was the norm in my class of kids who still looked like kids. The anxiety I felt as I waited for the teacher to say my height and weight out loud was ridiculous. I wish I could’ve stopped her. I wish I could’ve knocked her to the ground before she said my facts out loud. But I couldn’t. So my whole class heard the truth that I was 5ft 10 and weighed an enormous 125 lbs. Heavens to Betsy!!!! I was a freak!!
All I could think about was the 70 lb girl who went before me. She was normal. I was fat! Nobody else in my class weighed even close to 125 lbs. Of course, nobody else was even close to 5ft 10 either. But that didn’t relate in my barely 11 year old mind. It didn’t click that my weight was actually pretty darn low for my height. All that seared into my young mind was how much more I weighed than everyone else.
Having breakfast before school with my sisters during my “I’m a fat giant” days. It was clearly all in my head.
As I think about this moment of sincere humiliation, I just want to go back in time and give little me a huge hug and tell her it’s all going to be OK. I’d just want to reassure her that she’s perfectly proportioned and beautiful and that , yes, the boys WILL bypass her gigantic height one day soon. I’d want to let her know that weight is just a number and not an indication of her worth as a person. I’d want to let her know how amazing it would one day be to be so tall…how it would be so nice to be able to help people reach things on high shelves. How it would be easier to see over other people’s heads in crowds and that would be especially important at the Shaun Cassidy concert!! How one day she would applaud her height because she could weigh more than her shorter friends and look amazing while doing so!
I thought about all these things last night as I divulged my current weight to my husband. I had been fighting a stomach bug for about 24 hours and was trying hard to down some egg drop soup and rice. We talked a minute about the blessing of a stomach bug…quick weight loss. I had managed to lose 2 lbs in 24 hours! I wasn’t sad about that! But as my husband cheered for my still over 200 lb weight, it just struck me as funny. I’ve now lost just shy of 45 lbs and I look and feel so much better than I did 5 short months ago. But I’m still over 200 lbs. I’m still just a smidge heavier than my biggest cheerleader. And the truth is, I AM SO GOOD WITH THIS!!!! SO. GOOD!
So if I’m good with how I look and feel right now, why not stop the insanity of trying to keep losing? Hmm….couple things. I know how much more amazing I feel at my goal weight. I’ve been there within the last 15 years and it’s even better than the good of where I’m at now. And then there was that ONE doctor in my life. ONE doctor who had the good sense to actually comment on my weight as she saw me heading over 200 lbs while pregnant with my first child. She looked me in the eye and said , “Becky, you may be tall. But you do not need to weigh over 200 lbs. It’s not healthy.” Harsh? Maybe. Truth? Absolutely. But I look back on that now and I appreciate that truth being spoken to me. Because for a good portion of my adult years, I’ve hovered at 200 lbs or been well over. And that doctor from long ago was just right. I don’t feel my best when I’m over that number or even hovering right below it.
I still have about 30 lbs to my ultimate goal but I no longer look in the mirror and make grimacing faces at myself. That little girl who once thought her world ended because her whole class knew she weighed 125 lbs can rejoice in 218 and mean it….and even admit that on a public blog with only a mild amount of embarrassment! According to “all the charts”, I’m still obese. Shoot, when I reach MY goal weight, that all mighty BMI chart will still tell me I’m overweight. But to heck with those charts. I think I’ll throw them away!! How did they come up with those numbers anyway? I’m in my mid 50’s!! I DO NOT need to weigh 4 pounds more than I did as a scrawny 11 year old to be at a healthy weight!!!
I left out one thing I’d say to my 6th grade self. And it’s probably the most important thing I wish I had known then. Which may be why I left it for last.
Dear 6th Grade Me…
And I’ll offer this same advice to you if you’re struggling with your weight right now and find yourself comparing yourself with anyone else. Even if that “anyone” is a younger you who lost weight easier and faster!! There are going to be people who lose weight faster than you. That’s OK. There are also people who will lose slower than you. Also OK. There will be people who can lose weight and eat dessert every night or pizza every Friday while you feel like you have to eat salad every day to even lose a pound. There will be people who can lose and never do a lick of exercise! While others work out every day and love it!
It’s ALL good . What YOU are doing is good as long as you believe in yourself and don’t give up. Just keep doing YOUR thing and you will amaze YOURSELF !!
“You won’t realize how bad you truly felt until you start feeling really good.”
Friends who’ve been there done that
I was told this sooooo many times last year. And I was hoping it would one day ring true for me. I had been feeling gross! In the months leading up to my surgery last August, I’ll admit I felt amazingly hellish! But I have an extremely high tolerance for feeling yucky. I grin and bear it. I ignore it. I pray for healing. All the things. And normally I start to feel better and I go about my life as usual. I managed to skip my way past needing to see a doctor for about 10 years. Yay me! But a little over a year ago, things went south quickly. The draggy feeling. The rapid heart rate. The wondering most every day if I was going to just pass flat out with a house full of toddlers under foot. It all become too much to grin and bear.
So I made the doctor appointments. The first one told me I was anemic. As I went to the next doctor to attempt to determine the why, my hemoglobin level had dropped so dramatically I really should’ve had a blood transfusion that day. But the doctor wanted to try to get my level up “naturally” and wanted to wait 48 hours before she’d do a transfusion. What we did worked and, thank You Jesus, I was able to bypass the transfusion…barely. I love bypassing medical procedures!! But the “why” of all this crazy anemic business was clearly my uterus . I needed to start saying my goodbyes to it. The decision wasn’t difficult for me. This month marks the year anniversary of the day I said toodles to my once friendly, life bearing uterus.
As I’ve gradually healed over the last year, that statement so many well-meaning friends shared with me has, indeed, rung true. A year with no cramps. No achy back. No planning my life around all those”days of the month”. A year with energy to move and groove like I haven’t in years. I can’t remember the last time I’ve felt so good. When we were in Myrtle Beach a few months ago and we were walking to the pool, it really hit me. And it nearly made me cry. Because I hadn’t dreaded the walk that would end at the poolside cabana. I hadn’t tried to convince my husband why we needed to drive the few blocks to the pool. The walk didn’t wind me or tire me out. I didn’t feel like I was going to D I E !! A year ago I would’ve insisted on driving to this pool. But two or three or even four years ago, I would’ve insisted the same thing. It was in that moment that I realized the “good” I thought I had been feeling all those years wasn’t good at all. I had likely been anemic and ill for many years but I became so used to feeling weak and tired that it was just normal for me. I’m sure I blamed it all on just getting older because , you know, getting old ain’t for sissies and all that! But the truth was , I had just become blinded to my best life and was living a life of settled OK-ness.
Settled Ok-ness is not necessarily OK. Well, not if you truly want to live your best life.
And who doesn’t want that?
So why do we so often settle for the equivalent of the thievery of our “best life” ? John 10:10 says , though, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.”
The thief here is that pesky devil. He longs to steal our joy. He longs to kill and destroy any and all good we feel or desire. He gets quite the chuckle when we settle for anything in our lives that’s less than God’s best for us…
When we just feel mediocre and declare it “good enough.”
When we’d rather engage with people on social media than face to face because hiding behind a screen seems easier.
When we’d rather sit on the couch and watch TV by ourselves and begin to feel closer to fictional characters than to the real people in our lives.
When gorging ourselves with junk food becomes the norm simply because it’s easy and tastes just fine. So how can it be that bad?
When we do anything in private that we’d never do in the sight of others because we know it’s not right. But if nobody sees you, well….
If our ears could hear things in the spiritual realm around us, I’m certain the uproarious laughter of that evil snake would ring loudly as we continue to live less than our best lives. Why oh why do we give him the satisfaction of joy at our expense?
Can we let that thought make us angry for a sec ? Because if someone came into our home and actually stole something we loved and worked hard to obtain , we’d be beyond angry. Yet, the enemy of our very soul steals from us daily and we just let him ? Can that thought spark enough fire in us that we flip over to recognizing our “best life” things? Because those best things are meant for us. Why? Because Jesus! He’s the “I’ in the verse above and He was the originator of “live your best life”. He came and did His thing so we could live that best life with abundance.
Abundance as in Amply. Bountifully. Comfortably. Copiously. Extravagantly. Fully. Freely. Well. Lavishly. Sufficiently. Thoroughly. Generously.
But do we? Do we live more in that abundance meant for us or do we live in a constant state of less than? I think we all know when our life isn’t quite as on track in all the things as it should be.
We are all just beautiful works in progress, aren’t we?
It’s a good thing our God loves us so greatly. And is so patient with us as we figure out that best life He has prepared for us.
I can’t sit here and tell you what your best life should look like. You can figure that out on your own. Better yet, pray about it and ask the Lord to reveal to you what you need to do to get to that best life! I’ll do the same. And I promise , once we’re there, we’ll never want less !
I just celebrated another birthday. Cheers to that! It was not a biggie…you know, one with a zero at the end. But still one where I sat and realized I’m not that much younger than my early memories of my own grandparents. It’s a weird feeling. It’s almost like I hold my breath every time I look in a mirror. Will this finally be the day I look in the mirror and see my Mamaw staring back at me….silver, short grandma hair perfectly coifed. Nice, tailored dress with an apron over it. Sensible shoes. Perfectly polished fingernails. My grandparents were of the generation with that stereotypical “grandma look”. This “look” was beautiful and precious to me as a kid….but I don’t particularly want to stare at it every time I pass by a mirror! So please pass the hair color and the fancy skin care my way!!
This birthday, though. This year that sees me 4 years short of the next “zero at the end” birthday. It’s all caused me to stop and do some reflecting. I’m not really surprised that one of my very first real memories is of a birthday. My 4th birthday was a year my parents threw a little party for me. This shin dig was at our house, which was a sweet single wide mobile home in Fort Walton Beach. I can remember being super excited about my friends coming over…I can’t tell you a single one of their names today. And I can remember NOT being excited about the nap my mom insisted I take before the shenanigans began. But she let me fall asleep on her lap as she sat in her chair…that I DO remember. My head on her shoulder. Her arms wrapped tightly around me. Being warmly embraced by the love of my mother. That memory is much stronger than the names or faces of the kids who came to my house or the presents they brought for me.
Why? What would make me remember anything about a day fifty something years ago? I’m sure it’s because of the love I felt that day. Because love is a powerful thing!
“And now these three remain; faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.”…1Cor 13:13
Little me looking adorable enough in our “nap chair” that this could’ve actually been the day of that 4th birthday party.
With love powering my sentimentality and with birthdays on my mind, I’m not surprised that memories of birthday’s past have been filling my head this week.
Year 15 was celebrated at a local and newish water park. This was 1978 and water parks just weren’t all they are today. But by late 70’s standards, this one was…well…standard. I only remember it having a few different big water slides. I remember the brown bikini I had that summer, certain it showed off my tan all the better. I remember the friends who joined me on this day. And the plethora of cute lifeguards hanging around for me and my teenage friends to gawk at…I mean to save us if our lives were ever in peril from the swishing, raging water! I also remember feeling incredibly loved because my parents knew this outing would make my heart happy . And they were right!
The following year we were in a new town. It’s H A R D to move to a completely different state when you’re 16. The summer of this milestone birthday found me knowing pretty much zero people. We had only been in small town Texas for a few weeks, school had yet to begin, and our neighborhood was devoid of anyone even remotely near the ages of myself or my sisters. But this birthday made my heart smile because even in the simplicity of our family of five sitting in a Pizza Hut eating strangely amazing pizza, I felt all warm and cozy inside. It was my birthday and my family, who I knew loved me, surrounded me as we munched on my favorite food together. I think your favorite food and love will always go hand in hand!
How can I ever forget my next momentous birthday? I turned 18 in 1981. My friends and I celebrated with an overnight party and our first legal drinks. We made strawberry daiquiris and planned to wake up in time to watch the wedding of Charles and Diana. Because why not? What could be more special than royal love! I really needed this time of friendship and love on that very day. When I left my friends later that morning , after basking in the richness of this royal wedding and all the birthday fun, I learned of the death of my beloved Papaw. How sweet of God to surround with me so much fun and love right before what was one of the worst days of my young life.
By far my most memorable adult birthday was the big 4 – 0 ! This day saw my one and only surprise party. Somehow my husband was able to pull off a full fledged unexpected gathering of new friends, old friends and family from near and far. How I managed to not notice the line up of my Texas family’s cars as I strolled through the parking lot to the fellowship hall could only have an act of God. The love I felt that day bowled me over. As I walked through the different “layers” of friends and family who had come to celebrate this day with me, the affection we shared was sweet. It was almost like a glimpse of heaven.
Looking back on these birthdays from the past, I’m struck by one thing. The REASON I remember them. There was a very evident strand of love weaving through each of those days. The love of my mother’s arms…the love of a group of friends….the love of family. The feeling of being seen and known and loved is a powerful, grounding feeling. It’s a necessary one, I think.
We all want to be seen.
We all want to be known.
We all want to be loved.
God made us to need these things. Maybe that’s because HE sees us and knows us. And He IS love. Perhaps when we’re craving love, we’re really craving God. Hmmm….because as good as human love is, His love is a million times better. It just is.
So cheers to another year. A year to be loved and seen and known. A year to love and see and know.
Our oldest son had a birthday this week. I remember the day he was born like it happened this morning. The weird thing about this is while this memory from 26 years ago is immediate, I have to stop and think a minute about what I had for dinner last night. Can I get an amen from my other 50-something’s ?!?
Son #1 was actually due on my birthday. One of those biggies with a zero at the end. I think about turning 30 and how old that made me feel at the time. It must’ve been all the raging pregnant hormones! Thirty is awesome! But exiting my 20’s just felt huge. Like I was suddenly gonna wake up into a brand new level of maturity and experience I didn’t have even the day before. I think I’ve felt that way with each passing year but as I approach this next birthday that will launch me to the other side of my mid-50’s, I think I’m over feeling ancient over the calendar changes. That was so 26 years ago! Maybe!
But I digress. That mid July day in 1993 started like most of my summer pregnant days. It was four million degrees in our corner of Georgia…at least. And the humidity was just as bad. I’m sure my hair was awful as I drove my enormously pregnant self to my doctor’s appointment that Friday morning. (FYI…. I’ve slept a few times since this day and may not remember this part exactly right. My Man may have gone with me and been in the drivers seat. We may have even stopped for donuts on the way! Who knows?? ) I was just happy to have the morning off work. I planned on dilly dallying and getting to work really late. I didn’t know as I buckled my seat belt that morning just how long my delay back to work would be! My doctor gladly cooperated with my dilly dally plan. Seemed I was in labor. (I had a tendency to be in labor and not know it…please don’t hate me mommas !) He sent me immediately to the hospital, likely afraid I’d spit out this baby over the weekend and totally ruin his golf plans! My labor with this third child of mine was the roughest and the fastest. Sweet baby boy nearly came while the doctor left me in the “c section recovery room” to find me a real labor suite. The full moon had labor and delivery packed to the gills and I was far from the first one there ! There was nearly “no room in the inn”! My man had also left the room to go tell his mom what was going on. Now before anyone goes bashing these men for leaving a laboring woman all alone, all was well when they left. In the 10 minutes they were gone,however, this sweet child of mine got in a real big hurry and was almost born with no audience! Yikes! But the doctor returned just in time to deliver my bouncing baby boy!
Oh the memories! It really IS hard to believe 26 years have passed. But then I think about all that has changed since 1993 and it feels like eons ago.
In 1993, the average cost of a new house was $113,200. The price of a gallon of gas was around $1.16. It cost $4.00 to go see Jurassic Park or Sleepless in Seattle in a theater. And we had to see it in the theater because , well, no Netflix or Amazon Prime Of course we could wait for movies to come to Blockbuster, but the pressure to “be kind and rewind” or to return said movies on time was large! Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey could be heard blaring from our car radio speakers. Bill Clinton was president but had not yet “not had sexual relations” with that woman. The World Wide Web was still a tiny baby . Cell phones as we know them today were still a dream but big boxy car phones were all the rage if you were well-to-do. When new parents took photos of their babes, they held their breaths and hoped for a decent shot because they wouldn’t be able to see the picture until the film was developed. Commodore released the Amiga CD32 and Atari had the Jaguar. But the Playstation was still a year away.
And of course, there was Sears Portrait studio for all your baby’s first professional photo needs. Don’t you love how they disguised my steadying mommy arm with that amazing furry backdrop?
Today I look at my 6ft 2 son and wonder where the time went. I mean,wasn’t I just swaddling him and laying him in his Jenny Lind crib; just singing our made up “big buddy buckle up ” song every time we got in the car; just packing his little backpack for school ? But that car phone thing? That makes me feel like we walked with dinosaurs back then and I realize 26 years ago wasn’t exactly “yesterday”.
A lot has changed over the years. But one thing has remained constant. The days may feel like they’re dragging … especially when the crying seems to never end and you’ve stepped on the 110th Lego and they won’t eat their peas even with cheese sauce and they roll their eyes at you one more time…
But the years are short.
In the blink of an eye, that adorable baby becomes a curious toddler who turns into a messy elementary kid who barrels into teenage rebellion. And before you know it, he’s a grown, married man with a job and bills to pay and little furry mouths to feed. Just as it should be.
So parents of yunguns, cherish those moments . Even the ones that make you want to claw your eyes out in frustration. Stop wishing time away. Stop always looking forward to the next amazing thing your child will do and simply enjoy the things they ARE doing. Now. In this moment. We can get so wrapped up in the next best thing that we don’t even see the now best thing. And I bet that even in those pesky pre-teen years where they’re trying so hard to be the boss of themselves and they’re on your last nerve all. the. time…..even then there’s something they’re doing that’s their now best thing. Find it. Love it. Brag on it. And in the proper time, you’ll all gracefully slide into the next little piece of greatness .
So Time, thank you I guess. Thank you for faithfully doing your thing and always marching on. Thank you Time for the weird ways you cause us to think you’ve stopped because those moments are filled with delightful memories. Thank you for the times that drag and for the times that seem to move forward too quickly.
And to that little boy who grew up too fast (and all his siblings) and to all the other children who seem to do the same …. my prayer for you…
“May God bless you and keep you. May God smile on you and gift you. May God look you full in the face and make you prosper.”
Because the Mighty Google knows the answer to most things I need to know, I posed this question to her recently.
What is the average amount of weight people gain on a cruise?
I needed to know this because, well, if you’ve been following my blog for the past four months, you know I’m on a mission to get my 50-something self back into shape and to a healthy weight. And you probably know that within that four month time span I also went on a cruise. So this was a serious concern for me! I certainly didn’t want my dream vacay to mess up my dreamier weight loss goals.
The answer Google Girl gave me to my all important question was flabbergasting! According to cruise reviewers, whomever they may be, the average weight gain on a 7 day cruise is 5 – 10 lbs!!! Ummmm…NO THANK YOU!!! I didn’t like that answer one bit and had zero desire to become another cruising weight gain statistic! The cruise we were planning was 7 days so I knew I needed a way to break the “spirit of cruise weight gain” and mess up that average some! I had worked pretty hard to lose 30 lbs in the 3 months prior to our cruise and I didn’t want my dream vacation to send me on a backwards spiral to that place I once was.
But what was I to do? From what I had heard from my cruise lovin’ friends, the food on these ships seemed to take on their own very appealing lives. The vittles were the very thing so many of them looked forward to. In fact, if the grub wasn’t up to snuff, the cruise wasn’t either. Someone even told me it was plain old dumb to be on a “diet” while on a cruise!! Trust me! I agree with that last sentiment! “Diets” ARE dumb!!
So I did what I’ve become accustomed to doing when facing any sort of dilemma. I had a chat with my Bestie about this. And He simply told me, “Trust me. It’ll be OK”
And you know what? It was. The day we returned home from our 10 day trip I sheepishly stepped on the scale and held my breath. I closed my eyes and hoped for the best but I was nervous. Because I HAD eaten way more than normal over the previous week. But when I opened my eyes, I got a sweet surprise. I was only up half a pound which was basically nothing. Because three days later when I stepped on that scale again, I was four pounds less than the day vacation started. HallelujahthankyouJesus!
So how in the world did I do this, you might ask? How did I make the gain of cruisers past my loss? Especially with every food temptation known to man set before me! Because it’s still vacation season and because someone reading this may be worried about packing on unwanted pounds while traveling, I thought I’d share a thing or two that helped me bust right through the “myth” that all people on cruises come home heavier!
Actual burger with actual bananas and peanut butter eaten on our actual vacation. It was a temptation…but not to me. My man enjoyed it and lived to tell about it! Those tots though. Scrumptious!!
Thing #1…I never deprived myself
Yep, that’s right. Don’t you deprive yourself either. The second you tell yourself you can’t have something, what happens? Yep, you think you just might shrivel up and die if you don’t have it. The desire to eat that pizza or that piece of cake or whatever is screaming your name becomes so all consuming that it’s all you hear. And the longer you wait to bite into the delectable yumminess, the greater the craving gets and before you know it , you’re a shriveled up mess crying in some corner for your mommy or you’ve taken an entire pizza to your room where you can eat it and not be seen. So as soon as this very odd peanut butter banana hamburger and tater tots were set before I us, I didn’t think twice. I hope the burger doesn’t make him sick but I’m totally eating half those tots! And I did . Which leads to….
Thing #2…I didn’t over indulge
Yep, the tater tots were fried little chunks of potato perfection that I likely shouldn’t have had. But my self control with food is better than it’s been in years. So I knew I’d be able to have a few without eating them all. Side note…I wouldn’t have been able to do this with chocolate cake. There are still things I don’t even let myself take one bite of because I may not know when to stop! Which brings me to the next thing…
Thing #3 … I ate desert every night
Wait, what? Didn’t I just say I couldn’t stop eating chocolate cake if it was set before me? While the likeliness of that being true was high, I knew I didn’t want to deprive myself. So every night, no matter where we were eating, I asked for their sugar free desert option. There was always at least one. So every night on our cruise, I ate whatever this offering for the day was. I ate Black Forest Cake, Lemon Sponge Cake, Tiramisu and the best mint chocolate chip ice cream ever. It was actually that ice cream that made us ask the chef one night if the sugar free stuff was truly sugar free. That’s when we learned that their “sugar free” deserts were actually just “no sugar added”, which is a bit different. Still….better than a full sugar anything. These nightly less sugar treats curbed any craving that might come out of nowhere for it’s more sugary cousins.
This was the exception to my “sugar free” desert options. This was brought to our table on our first Gala night . Everyone at our table was celebrating an anniversary so we all got this along with a rousing performance of a “Happy Anniversary” song from our servers.
Thing #4…We ordered room service often
Who doesn’t love the luxury of someone bringing them a big fluffy omelet, some delectable fruit and a hot, steamy pot of coffee before you even get out of bed! The benefits of this go way beyond not exposing your lovely bed head and morning breath to the world. The biggest benefit I found in doing this was no exposure to all the breakfast lovelies set out on the buffet each morning. It’s easier to not have cinnamon buns and pancakes and a plate piled high with bacon if you never even walk by them! Ordering our breakfast the night before while our senses were still sharp certainly helped me stay in the healthy zone of eating that I truly wanted to be in. On the few mornings we actually went to the buffet to eat, I just made a bee line to the Amazing Omelet Making Man. I’d just wave at the pancakes and the waffles and the sweet gooey morning treats as I zoomed by them.
Omelets to the rescue! There were 23,400 eggs consumed by passengers on the Oosterdam the week we sailed. I made sure to eat my fair share!! On Weight Watchers Freestyle, eggs are F R E E!! And speaking of no point foods….
Thing #5 … I gave myself permission to make good food choices
I’m on a cruise. Vacationing in places far from home. Food choices and restaurants filled with delectable full fat, full sugar, high carb amazingness all around me. I could’ve had my fill. But I reminded myself of how gross I would feel if I filled my body with these foods. I remembered how fabulous I’ve felt since I started making good food choices and have been eating more lean meats and fruits and veggies. I wanted to feel nothing but good on this vacation! So I gave myself permission to skip the junk and fill up with the good stuff. Every day I could eat chicken or fish instead of hamburgers or bacon. Every day I could have vegetables cooked in a variety of ways or fruit presented like it was a gift. Oh wait, it was a gift…free fresh fruit was delivered to our room daily! I’d get my fill of these healthier foods that cost me ZERO points then I’d have more of my daily points leftover for the treats. But getting full on the good stuff really caused me to not want the junk as much. (Oooo, I sorta love the Spiritual truths of that statement as well!!)
Thing #6 … We went on excursions with pretty trails
While we did our fair share of lounging by the pool or in the spa or on our beautiful balcony, according to that little Health app on my iPhone, we managed to walk well over 10,000 invigorating steps every day. That didn’t count the steps I took on the treadmill in the gym or while doing laps on the Promenade deck. (Three times around was a mile!) It didn’t count the many hundreds of steps we made just getting to all the places on the ship we needed to go. And for the record, I now just get a good old chuckle at myself for ever praying for God to place our room on this cruise “near all the things” so I wouldn’t have to walk so much. Bwahahahaha!! Oh sometimes we’re just so naive, huh? My favorite walks, though, were those walks in our port cities that took us down luscious forest trails, by water falls and streams. Even the strolls down the city streets were marvelous. All the walking we did on vacation really made me wish our non-vacation lifestyle could be a bit more active.
I’m certainly no expert on this subject but I’ve discovered some things that have worked for me. On March 1st, thoughts of this June cruise to Alaska caused me to get serious about getting healthier. I set a goal before myself and I reached it in the days before we set off on this journey. I couldn’t do this on my own. I had tried many times in the past to lose weight and just overcome a stinky mindset by my own power. Every time I started the solo trek to a healthier lifestyle , I’d get sidetracked before I really even got started. But in March, I set off with the One Perfect Weight Loss Partner…the One who is always with me, who always encourages me and always gives me strength. Four months into this great adventure, my relationship with food is different. It’s changed. It’s better. Food isn’t the boss of me anymore! I’m half way to my ultimate weight goal. Vacation , summer time, holidays, date nights, family gatherings…none of these things have set me back. If you’re struggling with your weight right now, I’d love to leave you with these encouraging words…
You can do this! You’re able ! You’re worth it!
I’ll say it again!
You can do this! You are able! You are worth it!
Until next time…
PS….since I’m half way to my goal and I’ve been sharing this journey here on my blog since the day it started, here is a current “Before/After Pic”. A little more than my hair color has changed. Today’s Me feels so much better than the Before Me.
It started as a dream. A little one that seemed to grow as time passed. We’re not hugely adventurous vacationers…though we want to be. Our travels haven’t taken us much further south than Gulf Coast Florida beaches (there was the Cancun honeymoon though). Williamsburg was our great “let’s head east” trip. Heading west means we’re going to Texas to visit family. And does North Carolina count as “north”? So when I started dreaming about possibly taking a cruise one day, it felt like just that. A dream.
I had all sorts of reasons why the likelihood of this cruise ever blasting out of dreamland would come to be. I have claustrophobia and I’ve never seen cruise ship cabins bigger than a thumbnail! And don’t get me started on motion sickness. I wore those lovely motion sickness bracelets the entire time we were at Disney World because those Teacups spin mighty fast!! The thought of being cooped up in a cracker box while barfing up my breakfast for 3 days wasn’t terribly appealing. Then there was the cost of taking our family on such a trip and well…..
Nonetheless, as more and more friends talked about their love for cruising and how fabulous it all was, my desire to try sailing the big blue-green pond never really left me. And as I learned more about Alaskan cruises and saw all the magical photos my friends had taken on their Alaskan adventures, I knew that if one day I actually lived the fulfilled dream of cruising, it would be to Alaska.
I knew God would have to step in to make this dream happen simply because there were way too many preconceived obstacles floating around in my head. I’d likely be sea sick the whole time. We’d be stumbling all over each other in our way too tiny room. Blah blah blah!
As our 25th anniversary year approached, though, for some reason I forgot all about the lame barriers I had put before myself and declared out loud to my family, “No need for any fancy party or extravagant gift for our anniversary. We’re going on a cruise to Alaska.” From my lips to God’s ears, I guess, because He made it happen.
As I was busily planning our next summer beach trip earlier this year, my husband declared that he was taking me on that dream cruise to Alaska for our anniversary. He was in contact with a travel agent and the wheels on this trip were already spinning. We’d take Holland America’s Oosterdam from Seattle for a 7 day Inside Passage cruise up to Juneau and Hubbard Glacier and back.
I almost couldn’t believe this was happening. It would be a trip so full of firsts, it was doubtful I could keep up with them all! We’d be further from home than we’d ever been together and we would have long stretches of time where we couldn’t even contact our family.
So with no other cruise to compare it to or any other trip to the Pacific Northwest/Alaska in our back pockets, here are a few of my impressions. Was it as dreamy as I’d hope??
In one word… Y E S !!!!!
Now because I have a difficult time keeping any sort of response to just one word, here are the rest of the words…and a few photos of our adventure! (I apologize in advance if this becomes a Word Press Long read and you’re not in the mood for a long read!) I’ll label each section with what it’s about so if you don’t what to know about Seattle, you can move on to the next section and so on.
Our cruise started here. So fun because this was another first for us with this vacation. We spent two extra days in Seattle , trying to do all the “iconic” Seattle things. I expected to be reminded of Grey’s Anatomy the whole time I was there . But there was only one moment where I even vaguely thought of my favorite hospital drama….and it was on the other side of Pike Place Market while we were sitting on the deck overlooking the pier. Remember the episode where Meredith “drowned” and almost died? How many times has she “almost died” anyway? Anyway, I didn’t actually take a picture of the pier because big old majestic Mount Ranier became the boss of where my eyes would land every time it was in view. Definitely one of my favorite Seattle things! How is it that I only have two photos with my new favorite mountain in them? I guess I”ll need to go back!
Besides staring in awe at this unreal looking snow covered beauty , we did a few other great things in The Emerald City that I can recommend to future travelers. These were our “go to’s”.
Pike Place Market! But be prepared for the smell of fish everywhere….catch one if it flies by you! Also be prepared to face the desperation of the homeless in the city and the strip club across the street. These things threw me , to be honest. Regardless, just experiencing the atmosphere , the FLOWERS, the fish market, the produce and the water views was not something I’d want to miss. Oh, and buy your bottle of wine for your cruise while you’re at the market! Amazing locally made wine ! If you wait and buy your wine on the ship, expect to double your price per bottle!
The Space Needle ! We took the monorail from near our hotel to get there. Sadly (or embarrassingly!), I really had no clue what the Space Needle was all about before we got there. I didn’t know it was built for a Worlds Fair. Or that it was built so quickly by men who really had no protection from falling off…yet didn’t! The views from the top, of course, were spectacular. The revolving glass floor moves ever so slowly and was a fun and different view from underneath your feet. You can get a snack at the top and a cup of Starbucks coffee…of course! There’s a virtual reality experience available for no extra cost if you’re dying to know what it would be like to bungee jump off the Needle…I wasn’t. But I appreciated the fact they didn’t charge you more to do this. The gift shop is great and full of every imaginable Space Needle souvenir you can imagine. I got a shirt. Because, you know, why not?
Chihuly Garden and Glass! We almost skipped this because we’ve seen a Chihuly collection at the Atlanta Botanical Garden. But we were both so glad we did this. So much beautiful artwork in there. And it was all sitting out, unprotected from being bumped off its pedestals or shelves by curious little(or big) hands! There was a sign telling people not to touch and that was all. But since I wasn’t stepping over any shards of broken glass, I guess the visitors that day were careful and obedient! This is a definite must see if your eyes delight in beautiful, colorful, imaginative glass work! It was all just stunning. And conveniently located right next to the Space Needle, it was easy to get to.
The Museum of Pop Culture (or MOPOP) was the last thing we saw in Seattle. This was on my husband’s “must do” list and I’m glad it was. The building itself is so fun and unique that you just know it will be filled with great things. And if you’re a fan of the music of Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix and Prince you will super love spending time there! We explored all the musical highlights of the museum but found ourselves too exhausted to see the other areas, which included Fantasy, Horror, Sci Fi, Movies. I probably would’ve enjoyed this more than the music exhibits but the old dogs were barking!
The Ship..MS Oosterdam
Next, the ship!! As I said before , this was our very first cruise so we have nothing to compare it to. But I have a strong feeling that we spoiled ourselves to any other cruise line or ship in one fail swoop here. As “older adults” traveling without children, this ship was perfect! While there were things for kids to do on the ship, the entertainment was certainly geared more towards adults. There were no water parks or go karts or zip lining or anything like that. Just a couple of swimming pools…which were always full of kids. And by “full”, I mean a couple dozen. I know there was a Kids Club on board but since we took zero children with us, I have the same amount of knowledge of what exactly happens in said Kids Club.
So some highlights of the beautiful, magnificent MS Oosterdam from the eyes of this first time cruiser.
Its size was perfect. According to good old Google, the ship holds 1964 guests, is 936 ft. long and 105.8 ft wide. In other words, it was big enough to get a good workout in every day with all the walking we did while on board (three times around the Promenade deck was 1 mile!) but small enough to get pretty darn close to Hubbard Glacier on glacier day! Was it so small, though, that we stayed sea sick the whole week? In my research, I found that you are less likely to feel the motion of the ocean in larger ships. When you compare the size of the Oosterdam to , say, a Royal Caribbean ship that holds twice as many people , it’s on the smaller side. So yes, we could feel the movement of the sea but it was only bad on our one sea day. On that day, we couldn’t walk in a straight line if our lives depended on it. The ocean was rough and it showed on board. I never got sea sick or even felt a twinge of discomfort but from the low attendance at dinner that night, I’d say I was one of the lucky ones. Can I just say that taking one doTerra DigestZen capsule a day may have been my lifesaver! After that one tricky day, it was smooth sailing the rest of the week!
We were offered a cabin upgrade a couple weeks before the cruise and we took it. Remember the claustrophobia issue I mentioned earlier and my certainty that all cruise ship cabins were cracker boxes? Well, our room for the week was just evidence to me of how God sees me and cares for what concerns me. The Signature Suites on the Oosterdam are H U G E!! Yes, our room was very large. It had a King size bed, a sitting area with a sofa and coffee table, a desk with shelves, an additional desk area that made a perfect “vanity”, two bedside tables, three closets, plenty of drawer space , a large bathroom with a separate shower and a jetted tub plus double sinks. AND we had a large balcony with plenty of room. The bed was super comfy and in all honesty, the cabin itself was as big and cleaner than the Westin hotel room we stayed in while in Seattle. It was cleaned no less than twice a day by our amazing room stewards. Who cleans their room twice a day? I miss that!
Speaking of our room stewards….oh man! So kind! So gracious! Always smiling! They’d see us from the other end of the mile long hallway and they’d wave and call out our names. Actually, all the crew members and staff were great people. We didn’t pass a single person with a Holland America name tag on who didn’t greet us . And can I just say that the vast array of accents we were greeted with was amazing. The Oosterdam is staffed from 38 unique nationalities. We loved that! We were personally served by precious souls from Bali, France, Jamaica, India, Indonesia, England, Norway, France … just to name a few!
I had heard that the walls of cruise ship cabins were super thin. Hmmm….we barely knew we had neighbors. Not once did we hear noise from the cabins on either side of us. The only time we ever over heard conversations was while we were all sitting outside on our balconies at the same time. Our cabin was so quiet!
The ship was decorated in a very classic, beautiful, ornate way. I loved that it so often felt like a throw back to a different era. It was also exceptionally clean. Maybe that’s because there was ALWAYS someone cleaning something. Every time we left our room, we’d find people cleaning the banisters or the windows or vacuuming the hallways. Almost motivates me to keep my house cleaner when I think about it…almost!
The entertainment was delightful to our music loving souls. From string groups playing movie tunes at Lincoln Center Stage to dueling piano playing singers sharing songs from many decades in Billboard Onboard to the more upbeat music at BB King’s Blue Club, we enjoyed it all. We danced. We sang along. We drank adult beverages. But it wasn’t all about the musical entertainment. There was Justin Rupple, who is a comedian and voice actor; Jessica Jane, who is a “Magical Entertainer”; and in America’s Test Kitchen, which rivaled any cooking show on TV, we learned to cook many delectable treats. All good stuff!
A couple of little extras we had on the ship were 7 day laundry service. We’d gather up our dirty clothes , make a call and our room steward would pick it up. By the next morning, our clean clothes would be returned neatly hung up or folded. Sigh….I miss that! We also had 7 day access to the spa, which included a hydrotherapy pool and heated ceramic loungers with an ocean view. After a day of exploring the ship or one of our ports of call, it was soooo nice to be able to relax in the spa. The only disappointing “extra” we had was the internet service. We got our money back for that one.
Lastly, the food. One of the things I so commonly hear from cruisers is how incredible the food is…how they want to eat all the time…how it’s so readily available. It’s almost as if the food itself becomes a planned activity to look forward to. Don’t get me wrong. Our food was good. There was only one meal we had that turned my stomach a bit….but I don’t do food with eyes! Or mushrooms that literally taste like dirt! But everything else was tasty…just not “slap yo momma” good . So we were able to eat reasonably without feeling like we were missing out if we weren’t constantly eating. Neither of us gained any weight on this cruise. I hear that’s pretty uncommon! Big thanks to the No Sugar Added Desserts every night!
Juneau, Hubbard Glacier, Sitka, Ketchikan, and Victoria
So how do you choose a cruise with a fabulous Alaska itinerary? If you’re planning your very first cruise to The Last Frontier , just pick one. It’ll be amazing no matter where you stop to stretch your sea legs! Seriously, it didn’t take me long to decide God must somehow favor Alaska . Because He gave this state an abundance of breath taking , amazing, glorious, awe inspiring scenery. The phrase “pictures don’t really do it justice” must’ve originated with the first person who shared pictures of a snow topped Alaskan mountain or icy glacier. Oh blessed Alaska Dwellers, please never take for granted the beauty you live within!
Now , somehow, I’ll try to put into words some of our favorite times in our five ports of call. After that one rough day of sailing through choppy water, our first stop was Juneau. We opened our black-out curtains that morning to our first view of Alaska land and even though it was cloudy, the beauty before us was stunning. We didn’t arrive in Juneau until after lunch time, so I spent that morning getting a pedicure in the spa. Yes, I’ve had a million pedicures in my life so why pay more to do something I can so easily do at home ? Because I can safely say I’ve never had a pedicure with such a view! And honestly, here I sit two weeks later and my feet are still baby soft! So y’all, pay the extra bucks for a luxurious foot treatment with a view!
Our only disappointment of this trip happened in Juneau. I had spent a good bit of time polling friends and researching the best excursions. The one excursion that 90% of my friends loved the most or regretted not doing was a helicopter ride to the top of Mendenhall Glacier with a guided walk along the top. This particular excursion was highly rated and had even been featured on Good Morning America. We went back and forth over this one because it was so pricey! We decided it would be the most “Alaska-y” thing we could do so we bit the budget bullet and decided we wouldn’t regret it. However, as we pulled into the Port of Juneau, I had a feeling our dream excursion wouldn’t happen. It was drizzly and overcast with thick clouds. Here is where I have a BIG TIP to share...plan ahead and book the excursions you really don’t want to miss . They do fill up. However, have a Plan B in mind in case something happens. Like thick cloud cover that helicopters can’t see through. Yes, we were super bummed that our first excursion was canceled. That one disruption in our plans for our Juneau day changed the whole course of my carefully planned day. Being flexible while traveling is super important as well. There’s just no room for grumpiness over things you have no control over! Determined to not let this ruin our day, I pouted about this for as long as it took us to walk to the booth selling whale watching excursions…which was about 60 seconds! We booked our Evening Whale Watching Excursion as our Helicopter trip was being refunded. Yes, the refund was nearly instant so we were grateful for that! Booking all our excursions through Holland America came with a big safety net…we’d not be left behind in a port and refunds for canceled excursions would be quick!
Because our whale trip would be in the evening, we had time to get a $90 round trip bus ride to Mendenhall Glacier, which was 20 miles away. Seemed like a lot to spend but it was worth it. The glacier and the waterfall were truly a sight to behold. And making the 2 mile round trip hike to these beauties in boots not my own showed me that perseverance in spite of blisters pays off ! We spent some time ooing and aahing over the glacier before we hiked back up to the visitors center where there was a small exhibit on all things glacier . We were a bit rushed, though, because we had to be back on that bus in time to get us back to the port where our whale watching excursion would begin.
As much as we had been looking forward to that helicopter ride to the top of this big old glacier, our “Plan B” whale watching excursion ended up being my favorite thing we did on this trip. After we boarded another bus to take us to a different pier and I was assured there would be warmth, food, drinks and bathrooms on our little boat, I was ready for this experience. Our “little boat” had two levels of heated cabins where they had a really nice spread of food , including some Alaskan delicacies. We took our seats but as soon as the captain spotted the first whale, we braved the elements and headed to the outdoor decks to get a better view. This was our only super “Alaska cold” cold time. I never took myself to be someone who would be mesmerized by the site of any sort of creature in the wild…until that first mighty whale poked his humpy back out of the water for us to see. Whale after whale showed their tails and with each one we were more awed. But it wasn’t just the whales that thrilled us. The mountains surrounding us, the clouds, the mist, the rainbows…all just visually stunning. So much of God’s glory wrapping us up in a big old hug to our senses. Then just for fun, this buoy filled with seals taking a free ride across the waters delighted us with their cuteness! Such a great time!! So whale watching somewhere on your Alaskan adventure is a must!
Our next day was Hubbard Glacier, which was basically a sea day with the most spectacular views ever! This was a day we were prepared for more “Alaska cold” , but as the sweet waiter roamed the deck of the ship with his “free hot chocolate when you buy the $5 souvenir mug” , not many people were buying because they were too busy taking off all the coats and hats they were wearing. It was a strangely warm day. High 60’s and sunny! Not exactly hot chocolate craving weather. I guess it wasn’t a good day for pea soup either. I heard Holland America cruises also offers free pea soup on the deck on Glacier Day but I never saw this happening. Because God blessed us with such spectacular weather that day, the captain was able to steer this big old ship closer to the glacier than he’d been able to get in a while. Of course, he may tell all his glacier loving passengers this to make them feel like they’re getting the best up close views. But seriously, we were able to get much closer than I anticipated. We spent some time out on the main decks of the ship but we were basically having to compete with others for the best views. So we ordered a pot of coffee, grabbed some snacks and headed back to our suite where the views from our own private balcony were ours and ours alone. No competing for that primo rail spot! From our balcony we could hear the thundering sound of the glacier preparing to calve. Then it was like a a game of “Where’s Waldo” as we scanned the surface of the glacier to find the spot where the ice would break away and fall into the ocean. This is yet another Alaska thing I had no idea would grab me so sweetly and entertain me for hours. As our ship finally pulled away from Hubbard Glacier that day, I was already longing to go back.
Our next stop was Sitka. My only knowledge of Sitka came from the movie “The Proposal”, which took place in Sitka but wasn’t actually filmed there. I never saw any Ryan Reynolds or Betty White wannabes. Most of what we saw really didn’t look much like scenes from the movie. Except perhaps the water and forest scenes. And the Native American regalia Betty White wore in the dance scene. Remember that? Our one excursion in this cute fishing town was a tour called “Historic Sitka”. We were lead by a wise native Sitkan of Tlingit Indian descent. He took us to the Sitka National Historic Park where we saw and learned alot about totem poles and Tlingit history from a native woman who shared much of her hand made regalia. Cue the Betty White reference here. We learned from our tour guide that the low man on the totem pole was actually the most important person because the story the pole told was about that “low man”. We also learned a lot about salmon and how they fill the river that runs through the park during their season. We saw bald eagles flying around like they owned the sky. We walked through a refreshingly cool rain forest and saw trees and flowers unlike most we’ve ever seen in Georgia. Our tour guide also took us to the earliest Orthodox cathedral in the New World, which was full of historic artifacts. We went to the Sheldon Jackson Museum and ended with an entertaining Russian folk dance show. Sitka was our only stop with enough time to explore a bit after our excursion ended. So we walked through the two block downtown area and enjoyed a little bit of shopping while being awed by the snow capped mountains, the 60 degree June temperatures and the all out beauty around every corner. We even stopped for a bowl of stew at the Sitka Hotel…a bowl of reindeer stew. I’ll admit I had a hard time thinking about eating reindeer but after the first bite, it became easier! So delicious!
Our Friday stop was Ketchikan. This was adventure day!! Now I’m not much of an adventure type girl but this trip sparked a big old dose of adventure seeking in me that I didn’t even know I had. Our excursion for this day even had this thrill-seeking word in its title…Adventure Karts! Now this go cart riding adventure through the Tongass Rain Forest would take up most of our time in Ketchikan. So we decided to get up super early and explore this adorable town in the hour we had before our excursion began. And it was early. 7am is just early on vacation and by this point in the week, our bodies had acclimated to the four hour time difference between Alaska and home. So we scarfed down a quick omelet (we ate SO MANY eggs on this trip!) and headed to Creek Street, one of the most popular, historic sites in Ketchikan. It was a short walk from the pier to the creek where this stilted boardwalk street nestled itself on a slope. Creek Street is now lined with shops , restaurants and museums but it was once home of a brothel or two. One of the first buildings you walk by is Dolly’s, which is a brothel turned museum. And before 8am, it was one of the few things open for business. As a woman ,authentically dressed for the part, encouraged us to come in for the 15 minute tour, I almost felt like I had been transported back in time and my husband was being “propositioned” by one of Dolly’s house “employees”! We just walked on by, telling her we where short on time! I barely made it past her!
After a quick photo-taking jaunt down Creek Street, we made our way back to the pier where we caught our bus to the Adventure Karts location. Now we were excited for this trip because we really had never done anything like this before. It was a beautiful, sunny day and the temperature was a perfect 65 or so. It would truly be a great adventure…I mean the only restroom available once we got out there was a port-a-potty and some tall trees!! We got to the site where we were suited up with helmets and rain coats. Not a drop of rain in sight or a cloud in the sky but we were told we might want to use the rain gear to cover up our bags and keep our back sides dry on the seats. These locals let us know that the seats of the carts held on to water and in spite of the fact that their town was actually in a drought (in rainy Alaska??), we may appreciate the booty protection. After learning all the safety guidelines and rules of the “road”, our little group set off in our carts built for two, following Duncan, our young guide. As a “gift” to my husband, I let him drive the whole 14 mile path. He’s a little more risk-taking in his driving than I am and I knew full well he’d not have as much fun with my more cautious driving style! Honestly, though, I really just loved being his passenger as we whipped safely through the cool canopy of the forest. The views were obviously breathtaking because we were still in Alaska and all things in Alaska are amazing to look at! We made two stops with our group and had a snack together…a granola bar and water. The water was especially appreciated because the snack we had previous to the granola bar was d i r t !! Because it hadn’t significantly rained prior to our trip, the road we traveled was dry and dusty. And when you combine that with an open cart and fast speeds, well…the term “eat my dust” took on a whole new meaning! By the time we were finished with this seriously fun adventure ride, we were filthy and I was wearing a nice layer of dirt lipstick! Still, I’d do it all over again. Maybe after it has rained, though!
Our last stop before making the final journey back to Seattle was Victoria, British Columbia. Now I made zero plans for Victoria for a few reasons. I was not 100% sure we could get into Canada without a passport. The consensus was split amongst my friends on this issue. All we had were our birth certificates and drivers licenses. Also our time in Victoria was late…6pm to 11pm on a night when we’d be expected to have our bags packed to be ready to disembark the fabulous Oosterdam bright and early the next morning. So we were iffy about doing anything beyond dinner near the port. Yet, when we got up and moving the morning of Victoria day, we decided all would be well and we booked a tour called “Highlights of Victoria.” For the record, you CAN get into Canada without a passport. All we needed was our room key (which was loaded with all the info pertaining to our place of birth) and our drivers license to get off the boat and step onto Canadian soil. Easy peasy! So the good and bad of our tour of choice…it was a total bus tour of the city. Two hours long! The bus was nice, comfy and warm and outside the bus was very chilly and blustery. Even though the bus stopped once to let everyone out to stretch their legs and ooh and aah at some gorgeousness, it was soooo cold the leg stretching was quick! The good part of this tour is we saw a good portion of Victoria, which would’ve been difficult on foot, while learning about the city from our great tour guide. We drove through Beacon Hill Park, full of peacocks! We drove through town and saw The Empress Hotel and flowers hanging from all the street lights. We saw Chinatown…which I didn’t know Victoria had. We drove through gardens and neighborhoods and parks. Victoria has got to be the most beautiful city we’ve ever seen. So clean. Flowers everywhere. It was just spectacular. Definitely a place we want to return to and spend more time. 90% of our Canadian photos were taken from the inside of our moving bus. Not too bad for an iphone camera! While this was a good and informative tour for first time visitors of Victoria, I’m looking forward to seeing Butchart Gardens and maybe a castle or two next time.
Well if you made it this far into this little old blog post, congratulations. You’ve finally made it the end. Thanks for coming along on my walk down memory lane. This was easily the best trip we’ve taken as empty nesters! Over the past two weeks, a lot of people have asked me what the best part of this trip was. And while I want to say all of the above things you just read, my true favorite part was simply spending an entire week with my husband, no distractions. No pulls from the Internet or social media. No messages from work to contend with. Just the two of us having fun together, doing new things together. Remembering why we’ve spent the last 25 years together!
I had finally done it! That long awaited, can-I-really-do-it goal was mine! And with it came a post card from a popular blue jeans company. The nice lady at the Weight Watchers meeting handed it to me when she announced that I had made Lifetime…HALLELUJAH!! I still remember that day so well. Taking that shiny postcard and checking the box that said YES SEND ME MY FREE SKINNY JEANS!!! Asking these folks to send a size pants I hadn’t worn since I was a senior in high school felt surreal! Would they really believe I was the size I said I was?! Mailing the card …snail mail was still a valuable tool back in 2004! Receiving that package a few weeks later with those glorious jeans wrapped neatly inside! Putting them on for the first time and that feeling of giddiness and pride that those teeny tiny jeans fit! I was certain those jeans would be my favorites forever because they symbolized the fact that I can really do whatever I set my mind to.
I also remember the feeling when I looked at those teeny tiny award jeans hanging in my closet just a few years ago. They hadn’t fit in years. I looked at them in disgust wondering if my big toe would even still fit in them. Like most women , I had hung on to my “skinny” clothes well after they no longer fit . But on that day, I realized the fight in me was hibernating so soundly I really had no reason to hang on to the skinny things in my closet. All they were doing was taunting me…
Hahaha! Look at you! You’ll never fit in us again!
I hope you enjoyed your time wearing us because look at you now.
Why are we still in here? We don’t fit you and we neeeevvvveeeerrrrr wwiiiilllll!! Bwahahahaha!
I couldn’t get those nasty, mean pants out of my closet fast enough! The sound of their mocking voices sent me into a fit of silent tears and woe. The messages they were sending me as they hung there next to my pants 6 sizes larger were too negative for me. But they were right. I was too big for them and I always would be so why keep them .
I found a box and filled it with everything in my closet that didn’t fit and never would again. My resolve to load my closet with nothing but larger sizes was strong. I threw that box of rude small clothes in the donation pile in my garage and commenced to filling my closet with as many upsized clothes as I could. And with that one move, I closed and pad locked the door on any motivation I could muster up to be fit again. But I didn’t really care. Nope, not one bit!
Until, of course, I did.
I’m three months into my journey back to healthy. And the fight in me is stronger than it’s ever been. I honestly can’t remember a time in my life when I felt so determined to do something. I mean, one night last week I actually stopped watching TV at 9pm and instead of heading to bed, I welcomed good old Leslie Sansone onto my screen so I could walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. (If you’ve ever done a Walk at Home video I’m sure you just read that in her voice, huh?)
I can hear the old me screaming “Why would you do such a thing? That’s so weird!!!”
But something has clicked in me that has finally caused me to realize my health and my fitness at almost 56 years old is a fight worth fighting! At this age, I feel the natural state of my body is plain, flat out rebellion. It wants to sit still because moving makes all the achy things ache. It wants to gain weight whenever I look at food because why not? Does my metabolism even still exist?? It wants to fall apart because it’s getting old and worn. It’s worse than a rebellious teenager sneaking out at night to do those teenage things parents tell them not to!
So yes!! It takes some work , a healthy dose of motivation and an amazingly good attitude. Sorta like parenting those rebellious teens! But my GOOD health is worth FIGHTing for. Being able to move with ease is worth fighting for! Not feeling 110 is worth fighting for! Having more energy is worth fighting for!
I spent the day at a spa with my oldest daughter this past weekend . We did some amazing, relaxing things…facials, massages, hot tubs, saunas. Aahhh! But we also worked out! Say what?!?! And when my daughter looked at me on my fancy treadmill and said with a bit of amazement, “Mom, you’re JOGGING! GOOD job! ” …..well that moment let me know that my worthy FIGHT was paying off !
While my ultimate goal is to live a healthy life and to forever believe I can, my little “side goals” involve losing weight. When you have 80 lbs to lose to get to that elusive healthy Body Mass Index, it’s smart to set small achievable goals along the way. That first 30 lb goal is within a half a pound…so what the heck. I’ll just call it because I like to round up! With 30 lbs comes the need to dig out the size “less than” pants or just buy smaller clothes. This has been fun. But remember that day I threw out my skinny jeans? I threw out ALL my skinny clothes.
Or so I thought? Procrastination and hiding things from myself real well sometimes pays off!
I was searching for a paint brush in my garage this week. I’ve been working on refinishing my beloved but very weathered front porch rocking chair. It has needed to be made new just as badly as I have! As I was digging through the things in my way to where I thought this paint brush might be, I literally tripped on a taped up Amazon box. My first thought was “What did I order that I threw in the garage and forgot about?” But then I saw the box was slightly open on one end and what appeared to be clothes was peeking out. I held my breath. Could it be?
YES!! The box was filled with pants of all the “less than” sizes I once determined were only worthy of donating. It was filled with the lie that I never would or could be at a healthy weight again.
But as I dug through the box and found those teeny tiny award jeans from 2004 , I knew something with every fiber of my being .
The GOOD FIGHT to get back into those teeny tiny jeans is worth it because I AM WORTH IT!! I WILL be in those jeans again. They may be horribly outdated by then but hey…jeans are jeans right! And at least they’re not bell bottoms!!
So I’ll persevere however long it takes. I’ll stand firm in my conviction to be a better, healthier me. I will fight the GOOD FIGHT and finish this race.