Saturday, December 31, 2011
I am a bit lonely. I guess that's to be expected since I live alone and don't date. Perhaps I should change that... Perhaps not.
Welcome, 2012. Welcome.
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
I am still with Weight Watchers and doing well. The loss of weight is slow, but very steady. I am now at the 9 week mark, and have lost 10% of what I want to lose - that is a victory, for sure. The biggest victory, though, is that I am still tracking my food and counting points. Whenever I've tried Weight Watchers in the past 20 years, by the third meeting, I would dread the meetings and quit. There is something about the meetings that I find off-putting. I'm not sure exactly what it is, but one thing I know is that I never participate in the conversations about what to eat, because no one seems to eat real food. The conversations center around the latest non-food Weight Watcher snacks and how delicious the chemicals are. Yuck. Anyway, I have found my niche with the on-line program. No meetings for me - just the online tools and a weigh in every Saturday morning, which is when the local meeting weighs in.
I notice that my daughter and my beautiful big cousin Roseanne are keeping up with my weight loss and have become my cheerleaders. I love you both so much! And, I thank you for your support. I think they are more excited than I am, and very proud!
What is different? Well, I am keeping track of everything that goes in my mouth. Once I did that for a few days, I understood that I was snacking a lot - grazing, really - and on things that were high in salt and fat. I've replaced that with raw baby carrots (love the crunch and faint sweetness), microwaved plain popcorn dressed with a tsp or two of olive oil and spices of my choice (thank you, Presto microwave Power Pop! 1/4 C popcorn plus 2 tsp of olive oil = 8 points), and lots of fruit. I nosh all morning until lunch time, when I have a main dish, sandwich or soup for 5 - 9 points, plus salad or veggies or fruit. I love grapefruit and have always peeled them and eaten them out of hand; a grapefruit at lunch or in the afternoon has been really great for filling me up until dinner time. For dinner, I cook whatever I want and calculate the points. Then I play with the portions until I get the point value I want. I do try to cut down on oil or butter a bit, but I don't really do a lot of substitutions because I don't want to have to buy a lot of fat free or low calorie foods that don't taste as good. I'd rather have a smaller portion but full flavor. Leftovers become lunch, and I divide my dinners into portions right away, so I'm not tempted to unconsciously eat more. The other thing I'm doing which has been a help is that I write point values on different foods when I unpack my grocery shopping. For example, I really wanted waffles, but was too lazy to make them, so I bought a small box of 10 whole wheat waffles. I used the nutrition info on the box to calculate the points, and then I wrote it right on the box so every time I reach for two little waffles, I know they are 5 points.
What do I still need to do? Well, I don't get any exercise other than walking to Fresh Market once a week. I need to add in some joint-friendly exercise, but that just isn't going to happen right now. I have a yoga video for people who are stiff and sore, and I'll start that soon. Not right now, but soon. Perhaps that will be my New Year resolution. I am not getting two servings of calcium every day, even though I love plain yogurt and have some in the fridge. I'm not sure what's up with that, but I need to do better with that. I'm not weighing and measuring everything that I eat, and to be successful in the long term, every WW article I've read says that you really have to be very careful about portion sizes and not rely on eyeballing everything. I think I should designate one day a week to religiously measure and weigh everything, just to keep my portions true. But not this week. Or next. LOL!
I am 56 years old. I live alone with my cats and dog. My only child is married and has her own life four hours away from me. I come from a very long-lived gene pool, and if I live healthily, I believe I may live to my late 80s or even into my 90s. I have 30+ more years to live, and I wonder what I should do with those years? I need and want to get healthy in all parts of my life, including, but not limited to my weight, so that I can freely pursue the rest of my life, whatever it turns out to be. I think it will take me about two years to lose the weight and grow a strong, healthy body. At the end of those two years, hopefully my finances will be in order, my home will be completed and ready for sale or rent, and I can move forward into the next phase of my life.
I have no idea what the next phase will turn out to be - I have some ideas that keep gnawing at me, but God only knows what lies in store for me. In the meantime, I will keep chugging along, preparing for a big change, so that if it comes, I'll be ready.
And that, friends, is the update on my life!
Thursday, November 10, 2011
Tuesday, July 26, 2011
I am standing upon the seashore.
A ship at my side spreads her white sails
to the morning breeze
and starts for the blue ocean.
She is an object of beauty and strength.
I stand and watch her until at length
she hangs like a speck of white cloud just where the sea
and sky come to mingle with each other.
Then someone at my side says:
"There, she is gone!"
Gone from my sight.
That is all. She is
just as large in mast and hull and spar
as she was when she left my side
and she is just as able to bear the load
of living freight to her destined port.
Her diminished size is in me,
not in her.
And just at the moment when someone at my side says:
"There, she is gone!"
There are other eyes watching her coming,
and other voices ready to take up the glad shout:
"Here she comes!"
And that is dying.
Henry Van Dyke
Thursday, June 30, 2011
There is a theology of beauty, which harkens back to the language of the Old Testament when Moses desires to see God “face to face.” Such a vision is not granted to Moses, but many other visions which foreshadowed the vision of St. Paul are indeed given to Moses-the-God-seer. This is not the language of abstract religious thought but the language of the whole of art and its inner desire. We long for beauty, regardless of how poorly we often define it. True beauty takes our breath away and confounds our ability to describe it.
Much the same can be said of music. “God has made man to be the singer of His radiance,” St. Gregory the Theologian has said (PG, 38, 1327). We sing and we love to sing because at its very heart, we are singers of the radiance of God. It is certainly true that we sing many things that resemble in no way the radiance of God – and yet the drive towards song has its roots in God’s radiance. Perhaps the most essential writing in all of Scripture is the book of Psalms. At best, we moderns read it like poetry, though it was always meant to be sung. God, rendered as prose, is perhaps the deepest misrepresentation of all.
This itself is the problem found in many modern expressions of Christianity – they are prosaic. This is not to say that they are without music – though they are often without good music (let the arguments begin…). Liturgical expression (particularly of the ever-changing make-it-up-as-you-go-variety) fails to rise to the level of mystery. Sacraments, even where underpinned with relatively sound doctrine, still collapse into the prosaic life of modernity. In very few cases would emissaries from a strange land return from modern Christian worship and declare, “We knew not whether we were on earth or in heaven. But of a truth we know that God is with them” (the report of St. Vladimir’s emissaries to Constantinople in the 10th century).
Far more to the point is the prosaic character of Christian lives. Beauty and poetic wonder are not only missing in our relationship with God – they are missing from our lives. My experience is that Byzantine worship is no guarantee of beauty within its participants. However, it does not underwrite the banality of modern culture.
Several years back I was speaking with a small Russian choir, touring the United States from St. Petersburg. They were all Church singers, but also singers from various opera companies in St. Petersburg as well. Needless to say they were an exceedingly talented group. One of the hymns they had sung that night was a particularly difficult and moving piece by the Russian composer, Chesnokov. In the course of the conversation I noted the great beauty with which it was written and with which it had been sung that night. One of the choral members told that that it required careful spiritual preparation (“that all needed to be without anger and at peace with one another”) before this hymn could be properly sung.
Of course, this is not only true of the exquisite music of Chesnokov or other stellar writers – it is also true of a small four-member choir offering the most simple tunes of Obikhod chant on a Sunday morning. Four average voices will never sound like the trained voices of the Russian opera – but they can find beauty – first within and then as an offering of song. In that offering, other lives are transformed and lifted to realm of beauty that is Christ among us.
I do not wish to be foolish or dishonest: beauty, transcendant beauty is and transforming beauty is not the peculiar property of Orthodox Christianity.. God is indeed everywhere present and filling all things. And he desires that all participate in His life (which is also a participation in Beauty). I do not offer this as an observation of ecumenism – merely as a resurrection that God is free and “does whatsover He pleases.”
I do, however, offer this in order to encourage Christians to consider such things as Beauty and music – and many other aspects of our lives when considering devotion to God and the presentation of the Gospel. The world in which we live (much of it, anyway) is hungry less for a careful presentation of the Christian doctrine of the atonement than for an encounter with the true and living God.
Wednesday, April 13, 2011
The founder of my junior high, Albert Norton Parlin, wrote a brief treatise on the subject of character, and every student had to memorize it. Recently, the Parlin School became a grammar school for that section of the city, but in my day, every single public school student eventually attended the only junior high in town, the Parlin School. Thus, there are generations and generations of people in Everett who learned this little essay, and I still know it by heart. In fact, it is engraved on the three-story wall of the school that faces the main street in my hometown.
I would have all young persons taught to respect themselves, their citizenship, the rights of others and all sacred things; to be healthy, industrious, persevering, provident, courteous, just and honest; neat in person and in habit, clean in thought and in speech; modest in manner, cheerful in spirit and Masters of themselves, faithful to every trust, loyal to every duty; magnanimous in judgement, generous in service and sympathetic toward the needy and unfortunate; for these are the most mportant things in life and this is not only the way of wisdom, happiness and true success, but the way to make the most of themselves and to be of the greatest service to the world.
I've been thinking a lot about what constitutes character recently, about what a person of character looks like and how a person of character acts, and how does one develop character over time, there is no way that I could ponder these things and not give a nod to Character, by Albert N. Parlin.