Monday, December 30, 2013

The Color Black Let Me Down

     I've heard it said that black was a slimming color. In the photo above, I beat the crud out of that theory (faces were blurred to protect the innocent and keep them from looking skinnier than me). When I first saw that picture on facebook, was I: a) horrified, b) mortified, c) shocked, d) sad, or e) all of the above? Answer: e, f and g! I have dubbed it "worst pic ever." I've taken bad pictures before, you know, like face frozen as if someone hit pause on the dvd player, but this one made me cringe. I really couldn't believe I was that out of shape. Even more surprising is the fact that this shot was taken almost 4 years ago. The reality of my being over weight wasn't enough to sober me up. I didn't change after this picture slapped me in the face. I only got worse. 
     2013 was the year I finally admitted and surrendered to the fact that I am a food addict. People don't like that label. They don't want to be branded or there's a stigma attached to it that is very unappealing. I admit it freely because it helps me call the issue what it is and get the help I need around it. If I have a broken arm, I want the doctor to tell me I have a broken arm so he can treat it properly and then I can heal. And because of my addiction I choose to abstain from sugar and flour COMPLETELY. I'm not one of those people who can have one cookie or a small slice of cake. I want as many cookies as I can handle and the biggest piece of dessert, and it's always been that way. This behavior, among others led to my weighing 241 pounds a year ago, way too big for my height. 
     So, after wrestling with my inner demons, resisting my sponsor, and falling off the wagon several times, I've finally accepted this lot in life. I eat practically the same thing everyday. Ironic for a guy who grew up going to buffet style restaurants and actually worked in one for a couple years (along with his mother, brother and sister). I liked my choices, but now I choose to eat repetitiously, and I'm fine with that. Someone asked me "How can you eat the same thing every day?" I surprised myself when I heard the answer: "I have learned to appreciate what I get to eat." Out of all the blessings and accomplishments in 2013, that is probably the one I am most grateful for. 
      I preached a sermon recently and opened with this: "You know, I’m thinking ahead. I’ve already made my New Year’s resolutions for 2014, and because I don’t want to ruin my new year, I’ve already broken them. Why start 2014 feeling guilty about not doing what I said I was going to do? So, resolutions for 2014 made in 2013, broken in 2013, guilt and shame being dealt with in the old year so I can continue living in denial and truly have a Happy New Year! I’m ahead of the game by already falling behind, I’m progressive in my being stuck." I was actually being facetious. A year ago, that would have been more true for me. Today, it is not. And it feels most excellent to not have to rely on the color black any longer.
(Together, Marty and I have lost 110 pounds, but I win 'cause I lost 60!)

Friday, December 27, 2013

Julia's Birthday Buddy


     Our former church, Abundant Life Assembly of God in Cupertino, CA is full of good people. One fellow is named Jim. He and Julia share the same birthday, so he is Julia's "Birthday Buddy." His "buddy-ness," however, goes beyond just sharing the date. When he was growing up, he felt like his birthday was overshadowed by Christmas and there was never really a distinction between the two special days. Christmas gifts also counted as birthday presents. A party wasn't necessary because of the big day before. Jim wasn't too fond of this arrangement.
     When Julia was born, Jim made a commitment to acknowledge every birthday she had and to distinguish it from Christmas Day. And he has made good on that promise for the last eleven birthdays of Julia's life. Without fail, he has delivered a gift to her every year, from dolls, to princess castles to clothes and handbags.
     We've always made an effort to not let Julia's birthday get lost in the holiday season, but seeing Jim every December 26 makes the day that much more special. Thank you, Jim. You are the best birthday buddy ever!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Ode to K-Mart

     There's an off-beat song on my Christmas playlist called, "Come On! Let's Boogey to the Elf Dance" by Sufjan Stevens. Fun lyrics in it, including, "Your sisters' bangs, she cut 'em herself," and "K-Mart is closed." Ella, my 9 year old, heard that line and said "What's 'K-Mart'?" Is this really my child? How could one of my offspring not be familiar with a store I seemed to visit on at least a weekly basis?? I was around 5 years of age when my hometown of Antioch welcomed a K-Mart into the neighborhood. Oh, the glories that awaited us on Somersville Road behind those discount department store electric doors. Walk through and smell popcorn (and notice it sprinkled along the floor in it's artficially colored yellow-yness), the aroma coming from the snack bar that also sold ICEE slushy drinks. It was a banner day when Mom would spring for one. Within a few steps inside, I would announce to my mother that I would be in the toy section and bolted for the multiple aisles that hosted items on my Christmas and birthday list. During our visit we would hear more than a few times over the loudspeaker, "Attention K-Mart shoppers..." and we knew to look for the department where the aqua colored beacon would be flashing indicating a "Blue Light Special." In the back of the store was a restaurant, a RESTARAUNT! It must have been really ritzy because I don't recall ever eating there.

     The bane of my K-Mart shopping experience was trying on "Trax" tennis shoes that were yoked together with a plastic tie. A kid could only try one on at a time and would walk in it with the other one flopping around, all the while trying not to break their neck by tripping on the tethered shoe. They sold guns in the back, had aquariums to gaze into, an extensive record album selection was available... and my trip to K-Mart always ended hearing an employee announce to the entire store on the intercom, "Shane, will you come to the front of the store? Your mother's waiting for you." And, sheepishly, very aware that every customer would know who this Shane kid was, I would make my way to the entrance and walk out with the mom who didn't feel like looking for her kid herself. Ah, the joys of K-Mart. Ella, you're missing out.