Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Asher


Asher (grimacing after tasting frosting) Christmas 2018


Last December, I was in line at Hobby Lobby, holding gifts for Joe's kids that I let them select for themselves. Our precocious grandson, Asher, heard a cashier at the register ask someone to bring her a set of Copic markers, kept under lock and key.

"I changed my mind!" Asher said, looking at me, wide-eyed. "I want Copic markers!"

I laughed. Copic markers are used by art professionals, familiar with intricacies of layering and blending.  They are also extremely expensive and we can't afford them.  I'm a traditional grandmother who wants to buy everything for my grandkids, but I tried to deflect the request.

"No, Asher," I said.  "I don't think you're old enough for Copic markers."

Asher grimaced. I LOVE Asher's grimaces, almost as much as I love his smiles. 

"I'm old enough," he said. "I know what you're thinking.  You think I'm not going to treat them well, and I won't know what to to with them, but I do."  The grimace fell into a sadness that made me put my arm on his shoulder. 

"I know you're an artist," I said. "But I can't afford more than one Copic marker.  If you want one or two we might be able to afford it. But that's your Christmas gift. I think what you've chosen is better."

Asher looked up at me, then at his pre-purchased gift. "Alright, I'll take that," he said.  The look of defeat was all over his face. I knew better than to lecture him about being thankful--he was genuinely disappointed, and I didn't blame him. He looked up at me again. "One day, when you can afford it, can you buy me Copic markers?" 

I nodded. "Yes, Asher. Because I know you'll take care of them and I know you are a serious artist."

He smiled at me and shrugged.  "You should have just said you couldn't afford them in the first place," he said. "Instead of saying I'm not old enough." 

When we got to the cashier, I was so ready to be out of there.  I wanted to advise her not to say "Copic Markers" out loud while others are in line.  Instead, I smiled and looked down at Asher.  "One day, buddy, okay?"

"Yeah," he agreed. "Because I'm pretty good at drawing. You've never met another kid like me, right?"

I smiled. Asher remembered what I was saying earlier.  I told his parents that I never met anyone like Asher--he wasn't like other kids.


Asher's School open house - September 2017

I met Asher when he was eighteen months old. Mario and I called him "the little man" because he was so grown up for a little kid. He was already speaking in complete sentences, even though he didn't speak them to me.  His whole world was wrapped up in his mother, Ariel, my daughter-in-law Lennae’s sister.  Ariel and Asher occupied one room of (our son) David and Lennae’s house, so when we would visit our kids and grandchildren, we would see Ariel and Asher.


When our other son, Joe, visited David and Lennae, he got to know Ariel and Asher much better than we ever did. Soon, we noticed he was becoming pretty close with Ariel--a gorgeous, quiet woman that looked like a Renaissance painting.  When Joe and Ariel started dating, I wondered how it would affect the small, territorial little man in Ariel’s life.  After a brief warming up period, Joe and Asher got used to one another and began a relationship that looked like father and son.  A little while later, Harvey was born and the family blended quite nicely.

Playing Slinky on the stairs with Harvey - 2018

When you see Joe and Asher together, you see a unique closeness in their relationship, one that reminds me of how things are between Mario and Vince.  WhenMario and I started dating, Vince was 18 months old; when we married, Vince was two and a half.

Dog Pile on Grandpa
The blessing of a blended family is that everyone in it has a heart that makes room for each other.  While not always ideal, the children learn that they have parents on all sides.  When it’s working properly, the child feels loved on all sides.  While not ideal, the blended family has a special beauty, with  members that can adapt to newcomers easier.  Ours is such a family, where we are scattered and different, but we all love each other.  Asher helps me remember that life is pretty sweet –if we make it that way. 



Happy Birthday, Asher!!  I have never met another kid like you and I am so grateful that we're family!!  Blessings and love today and always!  Abuela.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Scarlett




Scarlett, my granddaughter, was walking upstairs tonight as I washed the dinner dishes.  “Goodnight, Grandma, I’ll see you on my birthday!”   

“Okay, honey,” I said.

“Because tomorrow is my birthday!” she started laughing, as if it were a great joke. In a way it is—Scarlett Star is five tomorrow?  It was only last week that she was born.

Scarlett Star Rodriguez was born in New Mexico five years ago today, in a birthing room perched on the top floor of the hospital.  After a long labor, Scarlett arrived, was weighed, measured, and handed over to her father, Vince (my son) as Rikki recovered.  Scarlett relaxed into his arms and after a few minutes with her, he let me hold her myself.  This scene will be with me forever—it was a perfect, peaceful time after a long, tumultuous labor.

Scarlett was finally here.

The birth of a child is always a little unpredictable, but soon things became normal and Vince and Rikki brought her home to meet Bruno, the family dog, accepted her as his baby. 


Scarlett was the first child to be born after Mario and I returned from South Africa, and we rejoiced that we were so close.  Even though the family still lived miles away in New Mexico, I was grateful to be back in the USA, only two time zones away from a phone call—a simple plane ride from here to there.  Still, Scarlett’s birth magnified the desire for all of us to be closer.  It also exposed an interesting fact: California was Vince’s home, but New Mexico was Rikki’s. 


Where would Scarlett find her home?  The answer was, as it is for all children, that Scarlett’s home was with her parents.  No matter where they chose to live, Scarlett’s most important connection would be with her mother and father during these formative years.  Vince and Rikki eventually decided to move “back” to California, and so we are very close now.  After a getting-to-know-you period, Scarlett became more and more accepting of us, and each step has been a miracle. 


Today Scarlett Star turns FIVE!  This year, in addition to growing into a more delightful version of herself, she became a big sister to Violet Moon, a baby who has given her a new sense of identity.


“Grandma, watch how she is when I put my face up to hers,” Scarlett tells me as she gets close to her sister.  It’s a beautiful sight to see, especially since my own older sister used to bit and pich me the first year I was alive!

Every other week, for a Friday trip to Chico, Scarlett accompanies me to see her cousins and Auntie Alicia.  These days are especially beautiful, since the building of strong family connections is so important. 

Tonight, I type in the half-light, using my phone as a hotspot because our internet is down,  Tomorrow, I’ll probably wince at the typos and sentence structure, until I see the birthday girl and “Janet, the writer” will disappear and make way for “Janet, the Grandma.”



Happy Birthday, Scarlett Star!  You are an amazing joy in our lives!





Monday, May 27, 2019

Harvey


Joe and Harvey run across the finish line in record time!

The day before Harvey, our grandson, was born at home, his parents got married.  It was a beautiful, sunny day in Seattle and Mario and I walked with the little family through an old-town section to a chapel where the couple tied the knot.  It was magical, and the couple took full advantage of Ariel's 9-moth pregnant tummy in the frame!  She looked to beautiful!

Before Vows--May 26, 2015



The next day, we got a text from my "step-daughter" Seantel, telling us that Ariel went into labor.  We were going to be present just to see the baby on the day of his birth! I was so elated! Seantel met us in the parking lot in front of Joe and Ariel's apartment, letting us know of the progress.

"She's pretty close to delivery, but there's still time," she told us. "Once he gets here, the midwives will sit down to chart.  Is there any way you can run and get snacks?"

Happy to have an occupation, Mario and I went to Safeway. I couldn't believe we would be grandparents again! Mario and I held hand tightly and smiled secretly at each other.  I can still smell the beautiful organic strawberries on display in the aisle.  I examined them, thinking, "He'll be here soon! He'll be here soon!" 

As we drove back to the apartment, I looked up at the clear Seattle sky and thanked God for his mercy.  Almost one hour after we delivered snacks, Harvey Locke Rodriguez was born at home, entering the world with unusual contentment.   

Harvey Locke, 10 minutes old.

Joe and Ariel (now the parents of three boys) moved to Kansas City, much closer to David and Lennae and their children--and much closer to Cathy, mi comadre. Our trips to see the kids are not as frequent as we’d like, so we see Harvey grow up mostly through pictures.  

Now and then, we all get together in Kansas City and reconnect.  I'm always surprised at how much the kids have gown; always amazed at how much Harvey looks like his father, who looks like Mario.

Ariel sent me this picture three and a half years ago.  Her caption was: "No family resemblance at all, is there?"


Three Generations 2017
Harvey exudes happiness and confidence.  He has more energy than even his brother, Asher, has (a LOT...a stinkin LOT!)   Harvey is the mischievous, playful, happy grandson!  Harvey is the beloved, the mighty, the beautiful.  Now...we see him being quiet, like his father became in these younger years.  
  
Mario and Joe--exhausted from playing with Harvey!

When Joe and Ariel had their third child, Theodore, they made Harvey a BIG BROTHER!!  I know it all sounds cliché,but once you start having Grandchildren, time goes by even faster!

Theodore, Mama, Harvey

I am typing this in the afternoon on Memorial Day, thanking God for our Harvey.  I love how he loves life and runs into it without fear.  His face is filled with mischief and he’s always cooking up a plan to do something a little naughty—but funny.  Born in a place of contentment, raised in a place of safety, and growing with joy and affection from all sides, I can wish only one more thing: God’s amazing grace all over him and his family.  I also wish for a chance to see him soon!




Happy Birthday, Harvey!  You are like sunshine to our lives!




Sunday, May 26, 2019

Memorial


R.I.P. PFC JAY-D ORNSBY ADKINS
December 9, 1985 - April 28, 2007


Every year on Memorial Day, I remember one soldier—his name was Jay-D Ornsby-Adkins.  He was handsome, funny, compassionate, kind to strangers, and enlisted in the US Army.  I think of him to remember what Memorial Day is all about—to honor the soldiers and sailors who have paid the ultimate price while serving their country in the armed services.  Jay-D was  born on December 9, 1985 and was killed in Iraq on April 28, 2007, making him only twenty-one years old when he died.

The reason I know of Jay-D in the first place is because of Morgan, a girl who has been Alicia’s best friend since high school.  It was not long after I met her that I found out her brother was killed in action. 

It has made me see this holiday, Memorial Day, much differently.

Jay-D’s mother, Robyn, is a beautiful woman who now bears the dubious distinction of being a Gold-Star Mom.  “I have a hair salon,” she once told me, “and every year I ask people if they know what Memorial Day is.  Only one or two will know exactly what the holiday is for—only a few know who we are remembering.” 

She’s not exaggerating.  According to a recent Gallup poll, only 28% of Americans know that Memorial Day is specifically to honor those who died in war.  Veteran’s Day is to honor those who served—Memorial Day is to honor those who have died in battle.

These fallen soldiers leave behind families.  These families are given a folded flag and a thank you from the U.S. Government.  We, as a nation, also grieve on this day, with them.  We remember them as more than bodies on a field—we remember the people that they were. 




“My Jay-D was born a mischievous little monkey,” Robyn told me, laughing. “Honestly, he was a little character who found joy in challenging me!”  Her laughter faded and she sighed.  “I would give anything to have him here challenging me now.”

Jay-D grew up dearly loved, an active boy who loved to play.  He was fearless and mighty, never running from any fight.  “He wouldn’t tolerate anyone bullying him,” Robyn told me.  “He’d give them a good fight, for sure.”  Robyn stopped to explain how hard it was to teach Jay-D the delicate balance of sticking up for himself and having self-control.  As soon as she felt he learned this lesson, he started sticking up for others. 

“I would get a call from the principal's office, and they'd tell me that Jay-D was in there for fighting a boy who was bullying someone else,” Robyn laughed.  “When he got home, I asked him why he would fight other people’s battles, and he answered me straight: ‘Well, it just didn’t seem right!’”

Jay-D's anti-bullying campaign  was in place long before any even existed. “At a time when it was not cool for anyone to help the Down Syndrome kid in school, he did.  He would defend an underdog, stand up for the new kids, and even helped others when no one else would.”  

The boy who fought for the rights of others also learned how to express his own tender interior.  “He taught himself how to play guitar, he loved ‘Sweet Home Alabama,’ which he played very well.”

After high school, Jay-D chose to enlist in the US Army, since career opportunities seemed more promising after finishing school.  “Jay-D wanted to get his life started,” Robyn said.  “He knew that if he enlisted he would be able to earn money for college and get other opportunities.” 



At twenty years old, he was enlisted, sworn in and enrolled in boot camp.  It was there that he became a soldier.  “Once boot camp was over,” Robyn told me.  “Everything changed.  He was very focused on fighting for his country.  Shortly after, he was deployed to Bagdad, Iraq, where he served as a tanker gunner.  While the main gun is what most people think of when it comes to tanks, Jay D was part of the crew that operated the machine guns mounted outside.

Through tears, Robyn told me about the day her son was killed:  “It was actually supposed to be his day off.  He wasn’t supposed to work that day, but his team needed him.  He agreed to go, not only because he was part of a team, but also he could apply that day to his next leave.” 

Instead of their usual tank, the team took a Hummer as part of a convoy and made their way through the streets.  On the side of the road, waiting, was the enemy.  As soon as the company’s Hummer was in range, the enemy exploded an IED – an Improvised Explosive Device-- and killed three of the four soldiers in Jay-D’s Hummer.  The enemy was fired upon by the surviving convoy, but their deaths did not bring justice.  War really is hell.

Robyn was able to bury Jay-D’s remains in Sunset View Cemetary, a place in Jackson. “It is a beautiful and peaceful place.” 

Today, the Ornsby’s usually celebrate Jay-D’s memory with friends and close family. One year she decorated a wine barrel and burned a special candle, signifying how the light of love will always burn bright in her heart.  She will take delight in having her grandson close by, a little boy named after his Uncle Jay-D. 

Robyn's Jay-D (1985)      and        Morgan's Jay-D (2015)


For Memorial Day, please take a deep breath and remember a fallen hero.  Think of Jay-D, his heart of gold, and his Gold Star Mom, Robyn.  Remember his sister, Morgan, who honors her family and her brother's memory every day of her life.  

Resolve to be part of the minority of Americans that remember what this day really is all about.  “I see the advertisements for the Auto Malls, the shopping centers, and the grocery stores,” Robyn told me once.  “All of them say ‘Memorial Day Sale!’  I wonder if they will honor any fallen Veterans there? I think not.  It’s all a money-making opportunity to them.”

Our soldiers are more than men and women in uniform. They are someone's baby, someone's spouse, someone's uncle or aunt.  I will grieve the fallen. I will celebrate the freedom that I have because of them. 

I will grieve with the families who have lost loved ones on Memorial Day.

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

Dad

Four Generations (L to R:  Alicia, Dad Harmony, Me, Alannah and Mario Photo-bombing)


When I think of my Dad, Jack Ryan, my mind is a flurry of information and feelings, a blizzard of emotion and memory.  Boston, cameras, books, Tracy, Mom, table tennis, church, Deacon, patios, gardens, bar-b-ques, and books.  Lots and lots of books.
I grew up in a house with so many books, I considered it a library.  My parents’ house had every room decorated with books; each had its thematic index: the family room’s classics, the living room’s encyclopedias and Holy Books, our bedrooms, with Childcrafts and Scholastic book selections, and then antique bookshelves throughout the house, with several hard cover books with spines in varied states of breakage. My Dad loved the Harvard classics, even though he went to Boston College.  Every night, my Dad and Mom would be reading in bed (like Mr. and Mrs. Brady) when we came in to their room to say goodnight. Dad started reading and collecting books when he was a child, and he passed this love onto me.  I remember borrowing a copy of James Joyce’s Dubliners and reading it with a flashlight under my covers. Once Dad noticed me borrowing, he started recommending books I should read. We still exchange opinions and reviews about recent favorites. 

He grew up in Boston, in the historic section of Pill Hill, near Brookline. An only child, Dad loved reading, writing and taking pictures with his Brownie camera.  Dad’s father died when he was young, so when he graduated from BC and moved to California, he brought his mother—my Nana, with him to Tracy. Dad’s stories of moving to Tracy—he took a job working at DVI, a prison in our small town—unfold like a disappointing movie. At the center of the San Joaquin valley, Tracy was (in Dad’s quick synopsis) “a cow-town” where he faced a sentence of boredom he hadn’t expected.  A devout Catholic, he started going to church at St. Bernard’s, and met my Mom at a YCW meeting. His boredom suddenly ended—sparks flew immediately—and the rest is proverbial history.
Dad and Mom Wedding


Dad grew to love Tracy. I was the second of five children, born in seven years, and we attended the same church they met and married in.  Dad and Mom were faithful in every way to bring us up responsibly and with a routine. In my young-adult years, I developed a rebellious streak, and Dad’s patience in the process of Fatherhood was tested often.  Many times, we’d disagree so much that I questioned if he really understood me, or loved me. When I married and became (gasp) a Born-Again Christian, Dad openly wondered why my Catholic roots weren't strong enough to keep me grounded in the “faith of my fathers”.  Mario and I had children, and Dad became a Grandfather like the one I had—a gentle man with time and coins and jokes.
  
Dad with Alicia
 All of these memories are part of the flurry in my head—all of them make room for new experiences and new memories that we still build together. Each day we have together is a gift.  
Part of our family
When someone asks me when I started writing, I tell them that reading and writing have always been a big part of my life, and my Dad has always influenced that part of me. He and Mom are the first readers of articles, stories, and even my homeless novel. The spiritual books Dad recommends encourage my spirits, as we share a common Christian faith together.

Christmas 2018
Today is my Dad’s 85th birthday.  To celebrate, he decided to go to Germany with my mother, a trip they didn’t tell us about until the last minute.  Maybe Dad thought I might object because of his health, or maybe I’d object because of his age…or object because I am his daughter who loves him and doesn’t want him to be too far away.  Especially on his birthday.
But…since he loved me enough to let me go on so many occasions, I need to love him enough to let him go to Germany.  Besides, I don’t have any choice.  He would have gone with Mom, even if I forbid them to go.
Happy Birthday, Dad!   I love you for so many reasons, a flurry of reasons that swirl in my heart like snow in a globe. If you’re reading this today, know that we love you and miss you.  If you read this when you get back…WHAT THE HECK, DAD! Germany? Are you kidding me?
Love you,
 Janet

Monday, April 22, 2019

new

This is a recycled post from 2014 with up-to-date additions in red.  Today is my six year anniversary of being abstinent from sugar, flour and alcohol.  


I remember the moment I realized I was fat.  
It was a rude awakening to hear Dave Lamb infer 
it on “Come Dine With Me South Africa” and
 I was blown away by his cheekiness.   

I was in a room full of people who were watching 
the airing of the TV show and cheering me on, 
even though we all knew I hadn’t won.  At the very 
end of the show I declared “It’s over!” to which the 
narrator said “It is now!” as I laughed. 

We have a saying in America – “It’s not over until the fat lady sings.”  
I was laughing my melodic laugh, a song on most other days – 
Most other days where I’m not called fat on nation-wide TV. 

“Does he mean I’m fat?”  I cried out loud. No one knew what
 to say.  Not even Mario, who had been in one too many of these 
situations; it was no-win for him.  He could see I was hurt 
and just smiled, encouraging me (as did everyone else) that it 
was a joke about my laugh, not a crack about my weight.   
Shooting Come Dine With Me in our neighbor's backyard
Somehow I got over it, but it always stung  every time I 
re-watched the episode.  After all, I knew what the 
narrator meant.

Even after the episode of Come Dine With Me aired, 
my eating habits didn’t change much.  After all, my 
husband loved me madly, I had a lot of good friends 
who supported me, and I was still a great hostess.  
My family has always been very supportive of me and 
wanted me happy, no matter what.  Weight wasn’t a 
factor in me being loved or feeling loved, and yet, the 
truth was this: I was overweight.  My husband’s opinion 
would not change that.  Neither would my family’s or my friends.  

After moving back to America, I took stock.  
I left my personal trainer behind in South Africa, 
I was starting over in Sacramento, and I recognized the 
crossroads in front of me. I had never been ready admit 
to myself until April 22, 2013. On that day, I decided to
get the weight off, once and for all. So, I did. 

I’ll keep it off, God willing.  I know the patterns 
that made me overweight in the first place.  
I have the desire to beat back death and sickness 
and the lies that used to live in my brain.  I am currently 
in the process of being transformed and restored. 

I wanted to share seven powerful truths that caused 
this change in my head, which is really where 
I’ve lost the most weight:

1.  I got honest with myself.

I was overweight by anyone’s standards.  
Even though I’d never put a lot of faith in BMI charts, 
they are a good place to start in determining if I was 
truly overweight.  A healthy human adult should weigh 
a certain number of pounds (or kilos or stone) for their
height , unless they are a bodybuilder or a gymnast. 
I was neither. 

I was overweight on most days, using most scales, 
during every season. The reason I was overweight 
wasn’t because of my genes. It wasn’t because I was 
fifty and had an early hysterectomy.  It wasn’t because 
I had supreme cooking skills and a lifestyle of hosting 
so many people in my home. 

I was overweight because I ate whatever I wanted when 
I wanted it.  I had rules for my overeating and they made 
sense to me: I was allowed to splurge at parties, on special 
occasions, on Sundays, bar Mitvahs, etc.  My permission slips 
to overeat were surpassed by morning-after regrets, where I 
stood on the bathroom scale and vowed to eat clean, healthful 
foods from now on.  I tried to eat right, I really did.  I tried 
every weight loss program ever, and my weight loss was temporary,
returning once again, when I gave myself permission to 
eat what I wanted. 

I actually had a deeper problem – a terrible self-image 
and a nagging feeling that I didn't have enough of anything
I wanted.  Overeating was only a symptom of this problem.

2.  I learned about food and the power it had over me.

A person who is overweight usually has other health concerns.  
I had chronic asthma and took my inhaler wherever I went.  
I had antacids at my bedside, in the kitchen and near the TV. 

When I decided to follow an eating plan that fed my body 
(instead of my taste buds) I started taking care of the Janet 
who lay dormant inside of me.  I studied the body and hunger, 
watched movies on nutrition, shopped for organic produce 
and fresh, whole foods.  I started paying attention to which foods 
satisfied me most. I added gooey things, like aloe vera and chia seeds. 
I measured my portions and didn't get seconds, ever.  I ate three
meals a day and nothing in between. I had scientific proof that 
the food I was eating was enough to sustain me.

The first few weeks were brutal. My emotional response 
was very bad and I felt “hungry” all the time. The truth of the 
matter was that I was coming off white sugar and white flour; 
I was an addict to both–and the addict inside me demanded her fix.  

Most of the time I was “hungry” I was tired -  I needed rest.  
I tried to lay down every time I was hungry.  It was excruciating, 
but I did it. Once I admitted I was an addict, I was okay knowing 
that.  I had to start somewhere.

3.  Alcohol had to go.

Alcohol is a food.  It goes into your mouth and is processed by 
your several systems that keep your body moving.  When I decided 
to be honest with myself I that included that I would have to be 
honest about everything that I was ingesting. 

I suddenly was confronted with addictive patterns that didn’t belong
in my life.  I had been using food and alcohol to tranquilize my pain.  
I never processed the pain that was causing my compulsive patterns.   
Food I couldn’t eliminate, but alcohol I could.  I gave up the best red wine, 
the finest martinis--and said hello to water, tea, and kombucha.   

And I still haven’t said goodbye to Diet Coke.  A friend who has 
watched my transformation up close suggested that I watch a 
documentary on aspartame.   I groaned. Maybe she's right. 
Note: I still drink Diet Coke--they have Vanilla flavor now! 
Don't judge me!


4.  I had to process sources of pain that caused behavior 
that I didn't want in my life.

Read that again. 

If I had to be honest and weigh and measure my food, 
AND give up the hooch…. I had to begin a journey into 
the center of my soul and start dealing with emotions and 
pain that I didn't like talking about.  The journey of processing 
pain, forgiving, and then moving on, is not done overnight.  It's 
exhaustive and exhausting, but much better than plastering 
assorted wounds without paying attention to why they are there, 
and addressing why they're not going away. 

The funny thing about wounds is that they cause behaviors.  
I was stuck in these behaviors: acting angry or wounded when 
someone said something wrong, carrying hurts that I didn't 
deserve, needing attention at inappropriate times. I had real 
wounds inside of me that I wasn't taking care of, and they were 
bubbling up into my daily life.  If I had to be honest, I would have 
said that I don’t have time to take care of them, or I didn't  know 
how.  On top of that, I was taught that if I believed God fully, my 
wounds would just disappear.  

I've learned how to participate in a lifestyle of healing my wounds, 
which means working together with God, so I can fully understand 
the process. When I do this, I am less likely hurt others that I care about. 

My new lifestyle included a lot of honesty, humility and reflection.  
I'd lived a life that discouraged looking within too much, so I had 
to give myself permission to tend to my own wounds.  I'm a work 
in process.


5.  I had to be accountable to someone safe.

What would I do without friends?  I have so many who are lovely 
and loving – they genuinely care about me.   One of my friends is 
my official “bullshitometer” on this journey.  I can squeak past most 
friends with my old patterns, but not her--she had recently started a
 similar journey herself.  She had a similar moment of awakening and, 
like me, was confronted with painful patterns in her own life.  Because 
of her journey, she can relate to mine.  We both are becoming “filled 
with sanity” little by little. 

Because of her, I can be honest about my deep emotions 
and my food battles.  Even sobriety  and self-awareness can’t hold
a candle to the beam of the truth that comes from a good friend. 
She understands the truth behind the truth.


6.  I have rediscovered God.

Oh, boy...confessions of a missionary.  In all the years that I had
“served God” (and  I mean this in the most humble way) I had 
neglected my true love.  I loved being busy doing good things, 
but forgotten about the reason why I was doing them. He is my 
first love.  This rediscovery of faith has been very personal and 
private, but very real.  It's happened with grace and with love. 
I'm opening the doors of rooms I'd forgotten all about, by God's 
grace, and have been receiving with love…true love. 

I get shy talking about this, mainly because it's about such a 
personal thing of how I am intimate with God.  I spent years 
running around doing things for Him, even in His name, and 
now I realize that He wanted only me.  That’s refreshing.


7.  I started practicing gratitude.

The antidote for the poison of “never having enough_____” 
is gratitude.  It doesn't matter what you think you have too little 
of,  gratitude is medicine.  Gratitude allows us to count our 
blessings, be content with slow progress, and celebrate minor 
victories. 

When I came home to the United States, I swore I would eat 
mounds of pizza and heaps of Mexican food.  My new lifestyle 
is in conflict with overeating, so this hasn't happened, but I'm 
grateful for raw and organic foods that abound here.  I'm grateful
 for a grandchild's smile and streams of sunshine. I have to remind 
myself that inhaling and exhaling are gifts I’m not entitled to.  
I practice loving things that before I would complain about. 

I adore raw red cabbage.  I love raw cauliflower.  I'm grateful for 
beans and legumes. I've got a long list of things I can't believe are 
mine.  I have to say it over and over again several times an hour.  
Thank you, God!  I am grateful. 

The journey has just begun, six years later, it's ongoing, but I can 
tell you this:  It has been three months since I started a journey of 
being kind to myself.  In those three months I have lost thirty 
pounds (13.6 kg’s) in six years, I've lost a total of 50 pounds  
(or 22 kg's) but more important than this, is that I've kept it 
off for six years. It's a day-by-day process, but I'm incredibly 
grateful.  I have a graveyard of unused inhalers, I don’t even 
know where Mario keeps the antacids and I haven’t washed a
martini glass for three months. I have not had a drink of alcohol 
in SIX YEARS--not one drop. Praise God!!

Instead of feeling deprived, I feel free.  If I were honest, the 
best reward is being free.  This is still true, even after six years. 
That revelation is an example of irony, a funny one, that makes 
me laugh--but now no one says that the fat lady is singing.