Monday, August 22, 2011

Who is Charity For Anyway?

Is there such a thing as a "happy" Monday?!  I am, however, happy to say that I had a nice, productive and positive weekend; as usual, though, it was too short.

I rang in the weekend Friday night by joining friends at G's Place in Hollywood to watch the Dolphins go 2-0 in preseason.  Let's hope the 'Fins aren't repeating last year's trend of starting out like gangbusters, fizzling in mid-season and winding up with a mediocre season...again. 

Saturday morning I joined three good friends on a trek to Homestead.  TANGENT ALERT: I discovered there is a SW 312th Street in Miami; this was amazing to me as I live in NE 191st Street and I think once it gets to NE 2 hundred-some-teen street it turns into Broward County.  Funny the things you learn after only 25 years in this county. SMH

So, my good friend supports Bridge to Hope charity through St. John's Episcopal Church in Miami, and on the third Saturday of every month needy families gather to eat and collect groceries that have been donated/collected on their behalf.  We lined the table with the lunch she prepared: aluminum pans of pasta and tomato sauce, meatballs, caesar salad, rolls and chocolate chip cookies.    I was assigned to meatballs with the instruction of 2 per plate until everyone had been fed. 

At 11am we faced the crowd and started to serve. On my left, my friend grabbed an empty plate: "Salad? Pasta?"  She then handed the plate to me.  "Would you like meatballs?" I asked.  "A roll?"  I hand the plate to the pastor on my right whose job was to sprinkle grated cheese on the pasta, meatballs and salad.  He also handed out dessert: 2 chocolate chip cookies on small pink and red paper plates that read "Happy Valentine's Day".  And so the assembly line began.  Mothers of varying ages steered their children to the table.  The younger children could barely see over the table; it was quite amusing to watch their balancing acts - trying to hold their plates of food straight while they're eyes were bulging over the tray of cookies at the end of the line. 

The next 45 minutes was a blur of "Thank you" "No salad, please" "Gracias." "Oh, come on, can I have another meatball?" "God bless you all" "Can I take a plate home for my blind husband?" "Thank you so much for doing this" "Can I have seconds?"   Not everyone spoke English, but across the board their smiles expressed gratitude and appreciation.  I knew that for many of them, the meal we were serving might be their only hot meal of the day, if not their only meal.  I was humbled.  I felt such relief when we'd finally fed everyone and I was able to give seconds and 3, 4 and even 6 meatballs out at a time! 

After everyone ate, they lined up outside to receive groceries.  The stage behind was loaded with hundreds of plastic bags filled with various items: pastas, cereals, rice, canned goods, condiments, etc.  Each person received a minimum of 3 bags and more depending on the size of the family.  We fell into another assembly line: fill a plastic postal bin with 3-4 bags, slide it down the stage near the door where the line began.  We emptied the bins, handed bags out, and tossed the empty bins back to the stage until all the groceries were gone.  St. John's hooked these people UP!!!

When I agreed to volunteer for this, I wasn't sure what to expect.  I knew I'd feel good about my good deed for the day, but more important it was a powerful reminder of how fortunate I am that my basic needs are met and I don't need to rely on the kindness of strangers for my next meal.  I have an excellent support system of family and friends and I never want to take that for granted.  I do sometimes, and I need to remember my blessings.  Which all makes me wonder: who is charity for anyway?  I thought I was doing something to help them and it turns out it helped me. ... Can't wait til the third Saturday of September. ;o)

Monday, August 15, 2011

There's No Place Like Home

Yesterday I found my new home church: Trinity Church Miami.  It's rather ironic that after searching for/researching new churches for the last couple of months, the one that fit is the one closest to me. Blessings!

My younger sister Ashley accompanied me on this first visit. She hadn't been there either, but had heard good things about it.  We walked in about 8 minutes before the 11am service; I wanted to rush and find a bathroom before it began.  From the moment the doors opened I felt overwhelmed by the activity: people rushing back and forth, greeting each other and passing out flyers; bright and colorful movie posters for Toy Story 3, Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married and others lined the walls and pillars; TV monitors hung from the ceiling with "commercials" for various church events. I even made out two lines of people who I discovered were waiting for free popcorn and juice that were being distributed.  I saw attendees of all ages and races, men and women, and everyone was happy and bustling around.  All I could think was: this is a church??

I was raised Roman Catholic, which means I was baptized at around 6 months of age, made my First Communion in the second grade and was confirmed in seventh grade.  I attended private Catholic schools from kindergarten through high school graduation.  Do I believe in God? Yes. Do I believe that Catholics have a monopoly on a genuine personal relationship with God? Definitely not.  Every relationship with God (or whatever supernatural being you may or may not believe in) is a personal one and can't be globally defined.  Meaning, how I choose to manifest my relationship with God in my life is just that: my choice. 
But it's kind of hard to find a church that doesn't judge. One that truly embraces everyone and desires true community and acceptance of its members...all members.  Isn't that what the church is supposed to be?

I made it to the bathroom and then Ashley and I found seats in the auditorium just as the service was about to begin.  The lights dimmed in the auditorium and lit up over the stage; the monitors and screens throughout the room showed the band that seemed to just materialize on the stage.  The music started to play.  I suddenly noticed a choir of about 12-15 stood on the left of the stage.  The band began a praise and worship jam, calling everyone to stand up, raise their hands and clap to the upbeat Christian rock song.  The auditorium that had been fairly empty when Ashley and I walked in, was now PACKED with happy members, clapping and singing and dancing.  Again I thought: this a friggin' church?!?

After 3 great songs we sat and Pastor Robyn spoke.  She and her husband Rich are co-pastors of Trinity.  She discussed the myriad activities and events the church puts on and there are MANY! I've been looking for a way to get "plugged in" to a good community of fellowship and it was refreshing to find a church that has a lot of ways to get involved and meet new people.  A couple of the other churches I tried were limited: Sunday service at 10; Wednesday bible study at 7 and that's it about it. 

Then it was time for Trinity's At the Movies August series.  In an effort to increase attendance during the month of August, which apparently is the month with the lowest church attendance nationally, Trinity came up with this series of teaching through the use of current films.  The message for the day -- staying on the path God lays out for you -- was explored through Toy Story 3, and we watched several clips of the film with brief discussions of the moral lessons rooted therein.  It was lively, interesting, creative and relevant.  It was a treat to be able to discuss Christian lessons in an updated, relatable way.  Next week the movie is Tyler Perry's Why Did I Get Married. I'm very much looking forward to that.  Imagine; watching movies --good ones-- in church!

Ashley and I left the 95 minute service and I was invigorated. We were greeted by Pastor Robyn in the parking lot. I introduced myself and told her it was my first visit.  I extended my hand and she opened her arms and hugged me. It could've felt awkward but it didn't.  Actually, what I thought was: I finally found my church. :o)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Back in the saddle...

Unfroze my LA Fitness membership yesterday and made an appointment to see my trainer next Friday.  It's been nearly 4 months (actually 16 weeks ago as of tomorrow) since the accident, and it's been a huge struggle not to gain weight despite the holidays and the forced sedentary lifestyle.  Last night I only managed about 25 minutes: 4-5 set of 20 reps on machines working my shoulders, back and chest, followed by 13 minutes on the recumbent bike.  I'm sore...but I feel good. I may even go back. LOL

My goal is not to focus so much on actual numbers on the scale, but rather the discipline and consistency in my efforts.  I believe that eventually the good deeds will pile up and result in a healthier me.  That said, I have two weddings and a birthday in May and it'd be nice to get in better shape by then.  So I'm setting a weight loss goal of 10 solid pounds before the big day. That should make a difference in how my dress fits, double chins, etc.  Wish me luck!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

I'm Baaaaccckkk...(again)

Happy 2011 to my adoring fans(fan?)!!

I'm lubing my knuckles and brushing the rust off my blogging skills . I'm coming up for air after a pretty lousy 3 months of recovery after The Accident: Demise of Ritter (see my Facebook if you need to get up to speed).

Lately, I've had a lot of time to think, evaluate and re-evalute much of my life and its direction. I've learned many lessons, one of which applies both to my physical and mental recovery: ATROPHY SUCKS. So, I'm flexing my mental muscle by re-committing to regular blogging duties. Yay!! Those of you who were regular readers before know what to expect:

"A little bit of everything; a lot of what you like!"
Stay tuned...

Friday, February 06, 2009

Night and Day

It's not just a song by Cole Porter or a movie starring Cary Grant. It's about change. When one says "night and day," usually it's in reference to some drastic difference or change between two things. But right now I want to wax philosophical about slight change. (Fellow NSers may recognize this theme from yesterday's Daily Dose, so bear with me.)

Yesterday's Daily Dose, which I just read today, asks NSers to focus on gradual change. After a lifetime of overeating, not exercising and other bad habits, 7 days of being "good" feels like an eternity. Then when you make it through those days and get on the scale and see that you've lost 1 or 2 pounds, or even nothing at all, it seems like all that effort was wasted. Because you want to see a DRASTIC change reflected in those 3 little numbers. You want the number of pounds lost to equal what you think is the 'value' of your effort during the past week. Losing 1 pound seems hardly comparable to the HUGE-MONGOUS effort it took for me not to eat the extra 2 slices of Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza, not to grab the Snickers I wanted while standing in the WalMart line, not to stop at Taco Bell on my way home from school and go to the gym instead ... all this when all I really wanted to do is eat and then sleep.

Now my effort is to start focusing on the "little" things, what I liked to call 'What About Bob's Baby Steps'. You may recall that I have broken up with my poor-excuse for a scale. I saw a really cool one at Linens-N-Things that I may get this weekend. So, I'm making a list of the differences I've noticed in myself to keep myself encouraged until I start seeing the numbers I want to see:
  1. Except for being sleep-deprived, I feel GREAT. When I'm awake, I have a ton of energy.
  2. I walk faster.
  3. Everything in my closet fits or is loose.
  4. I can still talk after 55 minutes of cardio.
  5. When I sit down, I can actually see a gap between my legs.
  6. NO MORE DOUBLE CHIN (except in really bad, awkward drunken pictures)
  7. It's easier to eat healthy because I actually feel kind of sick eating too much junky food.
  8. I don't mind looking in the mirror so much ... I feel pretty ("oh soo pretty/ I feel pretty and witty and bright!")
  9. The surprised looks and silent nods of approval from friends and family when they see me, look straight at my midsection, then smile.
  10. I'm such a regular at the gym, I can walk in without checking in and my trainer gives me scheduling priority.
  11. * I lost an inch in my waist -- I think. I could've just been holding my breath (hence, the asterisk).

And this is a list of things I'm looking forward to:

  1. Learning how to roller blade.
  2. Looking SEXY in a bathing suit (one that I don't have to wear with shorts).
  3. Buying an outfit at the Gap.
  4. Borrowing something to wear from my skinny friend's closet.
  5. Getting rid of all the clothes I can wear now because they are simply TOO BIG.
  6. Liking my silhouette and not being as 'deep' as I am 'wide'. (I want to be shaped like an hourglass, not a cylinder.)
  7. Riding a horse.
  8. Getting on a plane without a seatbelt extender.
  9. Being stared at cause I'm HOT and not cause I'm HUGE.
  10. Crossing my legs.

Can't wait to start checking off each of these items. Wish me luck!

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The Break-Up

We’ve broken up. We needed time apart. I’d been feeling this way for a while, but I didn’t know how to let go. I mean, we’ve been together nearly every day for more than 3 years. I’d come to develop this weird dependency: he made me miserable, but I couldn’t walk away. In all our time together, for every 50 times we didn’t see eye to eye, there was maybe only 1 or 2 times that he’d say the right thing and make me happy.

Everyone kept telling me, "You don’t need him,""He’s a liar,""He’s old and doesn’t know what he’s talking about," or "Just find yourself a new one, there are plenty out there." I just kept hoping that if I made an effort and really, really tried, he’d change for me. Sometimes, he’d be good for a day or two, then revert to his old ways. I stuck with him anyway. Even though things weren’t working out. Even though in my heart of hearts I knew it was him and not me! How effed up is that?!!

I have had no contact with him for more than a week now. It’s difficult cause I still see him everyday, but we don’t communicate. I think I’m finally ready to move on. I know he was holding me back and I’m not about to let his vision of me define me. It doesn’t matter what he says! It only matters how I feel, what I do to make myself better and be the person I want to be, and I don’t need to focus on him like his assessment of me is the meaning of life.

Besides, I have my eye on a new one. I think it could be the one. But I’m not going to jump in just yet. I need some time alone, to think and re-evaluate. I’m going to really take my time to decide what it is I want from this relationship. And what I’ve learned is that when I commit like this again -- and I will -- I’m not going to limit myself. I’m going to aim high! I want a scale with all the bells and whistles! One that doesn’t just tell me my weight, but measures my fat content as well! One that stores my previous weight in memory for quick comparisons! One that measures in pounds AND kilograms! Maybe even one that talks!! ... or maybe not. My point is I’m not going to settle! And as far as my old scale? I’m over him.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nike Was On To Something...

So at 7:40 this morning I'm standing outside my door, trying to balance my laptop, purse, smoothie, water bottle and bookbag in a way so that I can still manipulate my keys enough to lock my door, and I'm already thinking "This is going to be a loooonnnngg day." As I walk down the stairs, I mentally catalogue all the things I have to remember to do: copy the study aid my classmate let my borrow [to the chagrin of the publisher], draft my main points and "umbrella" section due for LSVII tomorrow, finish my reading for Civ Pro tonight, go to the gym -- do I have my gym clothes? Oh, yeah, there from yesterday since I skipped it last night, so I HAVE to go tonight -- walk my dog, etc. And I think, "How am I going to do it all?" I sigh and answer myself, mentally, of course, "I guess I'll just do it." PAUSE ... A lightbulb goes off in my head (and some cash register in Nike headquarters chimed, I'm sure). "Aha!! THAT's where 'they' got it from." Someone, somewhere, some time ago looked in the face of some immensely daunting task, wondered desperately how in heaven's name she/he could get through it and thought "I'll just do it." And a millionaire was born.

I'm in my third week of my new health regimen; I've been pretty good and disciplined. But the scale doesn't want to cooperate. I feel GREAT. I've been functioning on 5-6 hours of sleep a night and despite my incessant griping and my afternoon crash yesterday (which I solved with 5 Hour Energy, my new best friend!), I'm doing pretty okay. Except the scale doesn't want to cooperate. And though I know I shouldn't be so numbers focused, I can't help it. It's really the only concrete measure of success ... or failure. :-( So, I'm taking a page from Blah-blah-blah Blagojevich's book and boycotting my scale. It's a way to focus on the other benefits of working out and trying to be health conscious, yada yada yada. So, my oath is this: I WILL NOT WEIGH MYSELF FOR ___ (I haven't figured out for how long yet) I'm going to start with getting through this week. Maybe it would help if I throw it off the balcony. Just a thought.