#40×40

On March 1, 1976, Kiss released their single Shout it out Loud while The Four Seasons topped the billboard charts with their catchy tune, What a Night.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Clearly both hits were proclaiming my arrival to the planet.

Readers, this bit of trivia means that I turn 39 and enter my 40th year of this blessed life, tomorrow.  I realize that this shocking news to most of you since I don’t look a day over 38 but, it’s true: the big 4-0 is only 12 short months away.

In order to approach this milestone birthday with the right a better frame of mind, I’m deciding to go with “personal project” rather than “pity party”. I think that embracing this looming date as the impetus for some needed changes sets a tone of anticipation rather than dread.   I’m preparing to enter the second half of my life with increased strength, clarity and focus and am setting some goals to help move me in that direction.  (As an aside, for inspiration about living #clearbraveandstrong follow Cathie’s blog here.)

My #40×40 goals:

1. #Publish40: Publish 40 blog posts by my 40th birthday.  I find that I begin many posts and then get distracted and never quite get around to hitting that daunting “publish” button.  This is my year to go public and form a better habit for my writing by floating at least 40 ideas into cyberspace.

2. #Lose40: Lose 40 pounds by my 40th birthday.  I have always struggled with over-indulgence and have written about it before.  I have set goals and failed (207 is still a sad reality) but I’m choosing to set a new goal and not give up.  Hitting 40 as a healthier and stronger person is a POSSIBLE and hopeful prospect.

3. #Thank40: Offer specific and personal thanks to 40 people by my 40th birthday. There are certainly more than 40, but I feel the need to acknowledge at least 40 who have significantly impacted me on my journey so far with a sincere word or token of appreciation.

4. #Read40: Identify the titles on my Essential 40 Bookshelf by my 40th birthday.  I have read many books – far more than 40 – but reflecting and narrowing the list down to the 40 that have changed me profoundly over my lifetime is an inspiring endeavour for a book nerd like me.

5. #Live40: Add 10 points to my 30 for Sanity Manifesto to create my #40×40 Manifesto. I have realized the motivational power of setting a vision for my life and I want to continue to live according to my 40 intentions.  Because, as Annie Dillard explains, “how we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”

So, there you have it, folks:  5 goals to motivate me in my 40th year.

Do I have any teammates for this #40×40 plan?  Cheerleaders?

Comment below with your advice or experience related to turning 40.  How did/will you approach this milestone birthday? 

Just for fun, a few trivia highlights from 1976:   Apple Computer was formed by Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak,  Happy Days was the most popular TV show, Rocky took home the Oscar for best film, and the Montreal Canadiens won the Stanley Cup.

What Lies Beneath

So, I bought my first pair of Spanx last week to wear under my dress for my brother-in-law’s wedding.  (Well, not actually Spanx another – I’m sure much lesser – brand from The Hudson’s Bay Company but you get the idea.)

I don’t think I fully understood what I was getting myself into.

I mean, these gitch are the envy of every granny-panty ever made.  A single pair is about $50 – one pair of underwear, essentially – and mine are the cheap knock-offs!

However, I need them to wear under fancy dresses and the like to smooth out what I will call my “life lines”: the extra bits of me that have grown from experiences like birthing too many children and eating too many Lays Dill Pickle Chips.  Yep, that’s right. I paid good money to strategically stuff pieces of me into the largest pair of undies you’ve ever seen.   A pretty picture?  Maybe.

Yes, I could just sport a lovely muumuu to the family wedding but if it is a choice between grandma’s outerwear and grandma’s underwear I’d rather hide this necessary evil and pretend my weight issues away.  The muumuu is a dead giveaway that I have been eating like a cow. (I realize this blog is too, but so few people read it.)

So, the big day arrives.  I’m prepping for my debut as a 10-pound-lighter-looking goddess in the bathroom of the Holiday Inn because I know there will be no end of photography on this occasion.  I’m showered, shaved, newly coiffed, and ready to go out into the world until I try on my undergarments. And they suck.

Ladies, it is no small feat to get into these things, let me tell you.  It is no spa treatment.  I could pay the same cash for a lovely pedi and be much less aware of my shortcomings.  Because, after squeezing my parts into the proper places with several grunts of dismay, I stood in front of the mirror and realized one simple thing.

I am NOT 10 pounds lighter.

I am merely bound by the modern equivalent of the corset and my lack of self-discipline.

Spanx are a merely a Band-Aid solution.  Sure, they work wonders to conceal my flaws for a few hours but nothing has really changed.  It’s all a façade.

As many of you know, I have struggled for sometime to maintain a healthy lifestyle  but it is so much easier to stuff it than to actually make changes.  I am weak and my resolutions fail and I continue to find myself in front of the mirror, confronting the truth.

And the fact that Spanx  (and wannabe Spanx) fly off the shelves indicates to me that I may not be alone in this battle against the bulge.  C’mon friends, surely I’m not the only muffin-topper out there that needs some encouragement!

How can we come together to create a prettier picture that embraces health and wellness in all its forms – including our bodies? How can we get beyond the lies we tell ourselves and really find some freedom?

Maybe if we all rally together we can help each other confront the truths about this deeply spiritual issue. Is it possible?

Is it time for a support group instead of support panties?  I’d like to think so.  Let me know if you are in.

Check out this group resource: http://madetocrave.org/

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I Can’t Do It and Neither Can You

So that resolve thing?  Yeah, it’s not working.

I keep trying to do things on my own and my resolve lacks results.

So, here’s what I am learning.  No amount of doing on my part is going to help.  This is a difficult realization for me to admit.  You see, I’m a doer and a doer that can’t do anything is a force to be reckoned with.  Just ask my husband.  I don’t like to wait;  I want to take action.  I want to develop a plan and implement it.  But manipulation of the externals rarely succeeds in bringing about internal change.  And therein lies the problem.

This frustration is at the heart of Christian experience, right? The Apostle Paul got it.  It has to be God doing the work because we’ve got nothing.  No amount of wishful thinking or good intentions is going to accomplish the work He has started.  Only He can do that.  And so we wait on Him.  Argh.

I’m just trying to figure out how to live in that holy dependency.  Seriously, how do we practically depend on God for strength?  (And don’t comment in Christianese; “let go and let God” just doesn’t deal with this very real struggle honestly enough for me.)  I know that trying to “figure out” the mysterious movement of God is a bit of a fool’s errand.  But I’ve got to do something!

Often, I feel like there is little point in trying at all:  what I want to do I don’t do; but, what I don’t want to do, I do. Yeah, I get that, Paul.  For all those areas that need discipline in my life, I am at His mercy. Somewhere between grace and application a balance can be found – not that I’ve found it, I just choose to believe in that hope.

But how do we allow God to work in us to break us free of these chains?  I have to believe it is possible and that I’m just a work in progress with a long way to go to completion.

I suppose I should feel it is freeing to know that this work is not up to me.  Somehow, that’s not where I’m at and I want to be able to accept that I can’t do it.  And I want that to be okay.

Looking for some wisdom?  Can you supply it?

You Can Lead this Horse to Water…

So, I wrote a blog in the summer about my absolute resolution to lose weight.  I also put a plan in place to do this and called it my Healthy Temple Manifesto.

Interestingly, it was another reflection in my window that revealed what a terrible failure I have been at keeping these promises to myself.

It is so discouraging to see how little self-control I have.  I feel like I succumb to any or all justifications for indulging:  stress, comfort, entertainment, joy, celebration, proximity, you name it and I’ll eat to that! And now it is the holidays – potentially the hardest of all seasons to weather when you struggle with eating!  Sugar cookies, anyone?  An edible treat made solely of sugar, flour, and butter can be delicious, but not nutritious. As it turns out, you can lead this horse to water but she might only drink it after eating an appetizer or two.

My son asked me the other night, “how much weight have you lost?”  He notices my stones (which are now reunited in the original jar –  looking rather forlorn, I must say). In a way, I appreciate the accountability he offers me; however, no one really likes that kind of reality check any more than a post-Christmas Visa bill, do they? Sadly, I had to tell him that the weight I lost has been found again.  Somehow it has returned to its owner.  And although there may be many reasons (or justifications), there are no excuses.

This is discouraging to say the least; actually, it’s embarrassing.

I need to go back and read  follow my own advice.  I don’t really need a New Year’s Resolution (I’ve got my fair share of old ones);  I need a new year of resolve.

Anybody with me?

 

 

Seven Stones

So, I am very happy to report that I am seven pounds lighter  since I started my journey to reclaim my body (closer to 10 pounds at the time of this post).  I know the numbers are not my focus but it sure is encouraging to see things move in the right direction.  I know I am doing better each day and I am not panicking if I mess up. I’m just taking each day as a new start.

I am struggling to avoid the emotional eating that goes with my stressful day-to-day life but each day I am just trying to do “the next right thing”; like getting out for a walk instead of grabbing a bag of chips. (Although, I must admit the chips have won on a few occasions, recently.)

I friend of mine on Facebook posted her weight loss visually in vases with “gems” in them.  The idea was that she would move one gem over to the originally empty jar each time a pound was lost.  I am stealing her idea.  Something visual is so helpful sometimes and I don’t want to put a picture of a bikini clad woman on my fridge because that is not what this initiative is about for me. (Even if I lose all the weight, I may never wear a bikini again because of what four pregnancies have done to my skin.  There are just some things that are not designed for public viewing).

The real weight I am shedding is the weight of my issues with food.  I have modified my friend’s idea slightly and have decided to use stones to represent pounds in my journey because each stone that is transferred symbolizes a lifted burden.

I have a room that I am converting into a sacred space: a place for reflection, meditation, prayer and worship.  I will keep the jars there to remind me of what God is doing in my life and to keep me connected to Him to accomplish these goals.

Just like Joshua, I will be able to mark God’s power and provision in my life with smooth stones.   I have fashioned an altar in a Mason jar:  God is here and He is with me.