Thursday, June 17, 2010

Freedom #8; side laced, not my style.

How I wanted to just put on my tennies and bend at the waist.... breathe.... and tie. Just tie my shoes. But no, that was too much of a struggle. A struggle between me and my body; between me and my breath. No thanks. Too much for me today. Even having to tie them by pulling my heavy leg up on top of the other, crossing it as much as possible, and getting the "side tie" was rough. That stomach is in the way, regardless of how you try and tie your shoes.

Look around next time you're out. Better yet, look down. Check the shoes. Check for the side ties. You'll understand. What do you see? Are they obese? Or are they getting older? It's going to be one or the other. BUT, I'm going to wager on this one. Mainly obese it's what you're going to notice. It's a fact. It's just an exhausting process. You get winded. You get sweaty. I'm not kidding. I got sweaty putting on my shoes! Oh my gosh. It pains me to think about it.

But you know what? No more. I bend at the waist and down I go. There's no thought about my stomach becoming the barrier between me and those damn laces, because...? There's no stomach getting in my way. That's right! It's a sweat free, painless process. Just me and my straight laced tennies.... Heading out the door.

Get this freedom, it's a good one. Sounds like a basic one? Ahhh, no. It's powerful. To not fight with your body? Big time joy.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

When you're lucky enough to be Irish.... You're lucky enough.

I read somewhere that the Irish identity is "hard as diamond and as fluid as water - it goes everywhere, endures everything and becomes everyone." It's so true. I think back to my family and all that they "endured" over the years to become who we are today. Although I am a little over half Irish and then a mismatch of several other nationalities, I relate most to being Irish.
When asked I say, I'm Irish.

There are things as an adult that I have learned (whether taught, researched, or often times, I've been lucky enough to have stories recounted to me, by family) about my ancestors; about my family. Their stories have become my history, embedded into my memory as though they belong to me. My struggles today resemble nothing of what my family went through back then. My struggles have never included if we would survive disease and famine. I never questioned whether myself or family would be treated less than humane. I often wonder if I would make the same decisions they did back then or would I crumble under the pressure? Would I feel empowered to stand up and be heard? Would I ever love a place so much that my heart would ache when I think of it, but be willing to leave that place for the smallest chance of survival.

From the very beginning, the Irish have had struggle. It began with the Viking invasions that spanned from 800 to 900 A.D. It was followed by the Strongbow invasion in 1169 A.D that lasted 700 total years. Next, there was English rule, in which so many lost their rights; both political and religious. The land of their ancestors, their family.... and that which belonged to them.... They were forced to pay astronomical fees to live on, and if they couldn't pay? There was certain eviction from the landlords. When it seemed like nothing could possibly get any worse, the famine hit. They had nothing left. Initially, they had no freedom.... no money, no land, and now.... they were dying; by the thousands. The choice to leave had nothing to do with the land they loved. The place of their ancestors; where their hearts and souls whispered to them through the mists of the Emerald Isle. Their choice was to likely die in Ireland (during the potato famine, the population in Ireland dropped by nearly 25%) or to leave their home(s) in search of a new life in America (1 out of 5 Irish would die of disease or malnutrition while traveling on "coffin ships").
These people, my family.... knew life would be hard but they had hope. Hope that they would have rights and be protected in America. This was not the case. There was no group lower than the Irish in the 1850's. Despite it all, they held strong. They were strong in their faith, and their culture and they believed that education is what would allow their children a fighting chance.
When I think of all of this struggle, I am reminded of the stories my Grandfather has told. He grew up in New York; his Father drove a truck and his Mother rented out rooms out to fellow immigrants; to those who needed them... with or without payment. They helped each other survive. They shared what they had and they pulled together. He talked about the people that would come through; the chores he would do; the food they would share; the laughter. He never mentioned the sorrow, and fear. He talked about going out and protecting cars outside the theatres for a nickel. He was proud to help his family anyway he could. I couldn't imagine my Grandfather being a little boy, having to wonder where the next meal would come from but then my immediate thought is to those little sandwiches Grandma would serve us when we'd come to visit.... bread, a thin slice of meat and the smallest trace of mustard. They never forgot what it was like to struggle.
But even in struggle, they had hearts of gold.....
My Dad was the oldest of eight children. They lived in a two bedroom house. My Grandparents moved themselves into the living room and slept on a pull out couch so that the girls and boys each had a room.
I think of the determination....
My Grandmother (my Mom's Mom) tells me the same story about when I was born every time I see her. It used to drive me crazy but now I sit back and take it all in. When I was born, my Father was in Vietnam (in the Navy). He was at sea and the Red Cross refused to send word to the ship that I had been born since it was a holiday; Veterans Day. My Grandmother in her calm, composed demeanor.... let those women know they would be contacting my Father or she would be contacting every state official until they did. My Father still has the telegram; the announcement of my birth. She was so quiet.... I couldn't imagine her with the power and strength to walk up to those women and make such a demand but she did.
I think of their pride in family.....
When I was a little girl, my Grandfather was larger than life. He was tall like my Dad, and would hide coins behind my ears and he was always working on something; fixing something for the millionth time. He would take my Sister and I with him to the Knights of Columbus Christmas celebrations and show us off; his Granddaughters. My Grandmother, she was quiet and composed, always wanting to make sure everyone was OK. Did we need a drink? Some lemonade? Then, she would gently take my hand and walk me through her garden... she would point out the flowers and give me the details of each. My Grandparents were love; quiet love. My Dad talks about how every night, they would take each other by the hand and walk. They would walk. Quietly enjoying each other.
They were selfless.....
They delivered food through meals on wheels for as long as I could remember, until cancer ravaged my Grandfathers body, then my Grandmothers.
Still today, I can close my eyes and see the twinkle in my Grandfather's eyes. I wonder if it's true that "when Irish eyes are smiling...." because his eyes, they smiled. They were magical.
I can still hear my Grandmother's voice; calling to my Dad.... "Danny...maybe the girls would like..."
I wish I knew then all that I know now about their struggles. I wish I knew then all that they had given up and all that they had been through in order to be exactly where they were. I wish I hadn't been so selfish. I wish I had hugged them more. I miss them both.

I guess it has nothing to do with being Irish. It's about family. It's about love.

Happy St Patrick's Day.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Freedom #7.... Have you ever been invisible?

Wow. This one is a rough one for me. Let me preface this freedom by saying this. I always believed this "being invisible" thing didn't exist. I believed that if you were a good person, then people would treat you well in return. No matter your weight. I was very wrong. Living on both sides, I see that now.
I'm an eye contact kind of gal. I believe it's something you should always do. It was something I've had to learn as an adult because as a child I had such low self esteem I would never look up. I didn't want anyone to think it was about them so I would force myself to look at people and smile. I did this until it became common place; just the norm.
Here's the thing... being fat? Often times you get no acknowledgement back. It's like you're the invisible man/woman. When I moved from California to Ohio at 20, I thought it was so weird how people just didn't make eye contact. I thought it was a small town "thing". I chalked it up to that. When we moved to Chicago? Same thing. I chalked it up to rudeness; we were outsiders and that must be it? Then Denver... Ah, Denver. It was great. We'd walk down the street and folks would actually say "hello! great day we're having" and I was in heaven. Maybe it was the mountain air? The diversity? The city was clean and the people kind! But then I realized... that only happened when I was with my husband! Oh sure, people would sometimes make eye contact and say hello to me but for the most part, I got nothing. And if I needed help? Forget about it. No opening doors. No offering up a bus seat. No "afternoon". No nods. No eye contact. I was invisible. I didn't exist. I thought honestly that this was what life was like.
THEN. I lost weight.
Life changed.
And doors opened. Not just opened. People would wait for me just so they could hold the door. They would inconvenience themselves for my sake. Oh my gosh.... "afternoon" is now full conversations. Nods are nods with a smile. There is eye contact, and acknowledgement. There is existence in this world. And by existence, I mean I existence to others.
I went to get a battery at the local car parts store a couple weeks ago. I opened the passenger door to get the battery out and another customer offered to carry it for me. Another customer opened the door. The clerk brought it back to the car for me. I asked for none of this. I can tell you from years of experience, this would not have happened if I still weighed 355lbs. Don't get me wrong, I appreciated the assistance. I just acknowledge the difference.
Oh wait, did I say difference? I meant prejudice.
I am the same person I was at 355lbs. I carry the same spirit and kindness. However, I now "exist" based on my outward appearance and only that. It's societies perception of who I am based on what I look like.
How very sad.
Today, I walk down the street and I acknowledge everyone. I make eye contact. I open doors. I offer up my seat. I smile. I nod and offer up "afternoons" and "hello" to EVERYONE regardless of race, religion, appearance, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, life status or WEIGHT. Sometimes, kindness is as simple as a smile and a hello. It can change a day. It can change a life.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wordful/less Wednesday

Happy Birthday Wonderful Sister!
Yesterday was my sisters birthday. My baby sister. My best friend. There are so many words. There are not enough words. I've written and erased. I decided I would write my memories; there are too many. She and I have laughed and cried, we've fought and made up;
we've grown....
into true sisters.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Nice Rack!

Like the show isn't bad enough.....

Get your Jersey Show nickname and please....

post yours for me!

Mine is "The Rack" and I have to say; sooooo not true! lol

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Wordful Wednesday

I had this really great post for today....
but now?
I've got nothin'

Monday, January 11, 2010

Strip Down

I was watching Oprah today and they were showing the life of a family in crisis. They started off with a look into the family in their "current" routine.
Mom wakes up and checks her phone; teenage son wakes up and immediately begins his texting; Dad wakes up and gets on the internet to check his email. Finally the 5 year old son wakes up and is parented by the tv.
The whole family is living in the home, together. Sadly, the are existing, apart. They are totally disconnected.
The Mother made the comment, "the people that live within these walls, are the people we should be treating the best;" It's true on so many levels and I appreciate so much that they came forward with their story.
Sadly, what I realized is that this family is not alone. They are becoming more and more of the majority. In this age of communication, we are even further distanced from each other.
Through this I was thinking back to my childhood and our routines. We weren't the perfect family by any means, we could become disconnected absolutely. What I believe the difference between a modern day disconnect and what I recall as a disconnect was when children become teenagers it's normal to have them push boundaries when they are finding their own identity. Normal sort of disconnect, don't you think?
So, my memories were of sitting at the dinner table every night; no tv, no calls, etc (there wasn't much more actually.... we had no computer, no cell phones). Sometimes, I remember just wanting to die at the thought of having to sit down for a half hour of pure uninterrupted conversation with my family. I knew there were going to be questions and conversation....
about the day
how was school? how did you do on your xx test? did you study? did you do your homework? why are you so angry/upset/crying/yelling/ignoring me?
inquiries about future days/weekend plans
when is that xx test? what are your plans this weekend? why are you hanging around xx? why are you so angry/upset/crying/yelling/ignoring me?
oh my gosh; the politics and news of the day
why are you angry/upset/crying/yelling/ignoring me?
lol.....ok, so you get the picture.
There always an emotion and not all of the conversations ended in some form of upset. There was plenty of laughter too. I remember when I was very young my Mom taught us manners at the table (funny thought, eh) and we would all wait to see if we could catch Dad eating before he put his napkin on his lap or saying grace.... those experiences always ended in laughter.
There were no calls after 6pm when I was young and later, it was 9pm. That rule was meant for everyone; parents and kids.... no exceptions. We tested this of course, we tested everything. But again, there were rules.... they were to keep our family structure sound.
I have realized that I need to be more aware of all of the "outside" noise that sometimes makes us forget that time is fleeting and sacred.
It's so fleeting that I remember so vividly when my son was just a baby, and then I blinked....
next thing I knew he was 5.....
I sneezed and all the sudden looked and he's now 9.....
I don't want to look back and wish I had spent more quality time.
I want him to laugh, and cry; to sing, and yell.... with me.....
So tonight, the tv's were off.... the phones were off.... and I read my son to sleep.....
it was joyous.

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