Thursday, February 18, 2016

how i lost 40 pounds

Hey everyone!  Ready for the newest member-led-marketing, get-rich-quick scheme to sell to your friends?  I have just the one for you!  Let me tell you how I lost 40 pounds in the last 9 months:



0)  hate yourself for being "so fat" after your body miraculously produced two children and nourished them with milk and then sustained all three of you through some exceptionally difficult times emotionally.

1)  start counting calories, then stop when you realize it doesn't actually change how you eat - you just enjoy compulsively checking how many calories are in things like Sonic BLT Toasters and 8 oz of raw milk.

2)  start working out - get a membership to the YMCA if you're motivated by financial investment like me.

3)  get overwhelmed by life and depressed.  This only works if you're in the camp that loses appetite when sad (this is me).  The very pathetic reality is that I frequently couldn't swallow food over the perpetual lump in my throat.

4)  have a tumultuous romantic entanglement. (see #3 also)

5)  have a health scare where you have elevated liver enzymes and your hepatologist tells you the only treatment is losing weight.

6)  do yoga twice a week.

7)  decide it's finally time to stop nursing your 2.5 year old son.

Seriously people . . . I have no idea how I lost weight,  People are always complimenting me and asking me what I did.  I feel like this whole thing was completely ruled by my emotions.  If anything, the working out and yoga are what seems to be the most likely causes.  But I guess what I'm saying is:  I don't recommend my method to anyone.  Celebrate who you are today.  Thank your amazing body, made by God, for serving you.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

dearly beloved

One of the sweetest privileges of the life of a clergyperson is being invited into people's lives at their critical moments.  At the birth of a child, at a deathbed, at a major surgery.  And at weddings!  Particularly being a young clergywoman, it's fun that I have been able to marry many of my friends.  I have now done weddings in Kansas, Tennessee, New York, Texas, Arkansas, and Indiana.  I have had to become familiar with how each state licenses their weddings, which is interesting.

I have so many fond memories of these weddings.  These are some of my oldest and closest friends:

Jimmy and Julie (I was lightly pregnant with Vicki)

Ryan and Michelle

Amanda and Paul (I was heavily pregnant with Todd)

Amber and Andy

Julianne and Parth

Chase and Carly (with my assistants)

And, this October, Stephanie and Sean!

Formal marriage is becoming a less-universal part of life for people of my generation.  I understand the reasons why, but I think there is something so sacred about coming together and vowing your love and dedication to one another in front of a group for support and accountability.

In my wedding homilies, I always try to emphasize the role of the gathered community.  The people who are present at this wedding are not just spectators, there to observe a pretty setting and have a great meal.  They are active participants who are vowing, with their presence and their words, to help this couple weather the storms that will come.

Marriage ain't easy.  If anyone knows that, it's me.  Sometimes it's a monumental struggle,  And sometimes it's better to call it quits.  But to make it, you need more than just each other.  You need all the people there to lean on.  Something about that just speaks to me.  And it's not lost on me that the people who supported me (and Jeff) the most through our divorce were . . . the people who were at our wedding.  They took seriously their covenant to help us dissolve our union (and care for the offspring of that union) with as much grace and love as when we made it.

Monday, February 15, 2016

part of being alive

Every Sunday night, I rush my children through bath and brushing teeth and books and into bed, I grab a beer, I adjust the bunny ears on the little postage-stamp television in my bedroom, I pat the covers next to me and invite Pup to snuggle up, and I tune in to the greatest soap opera of our time:  Downton Abbey.

Like all great series, it can't go on forever - it's already pretty much jumped the shark, now that we're in the sixth and final season.  But I'm as much a sucker for the lush Edwardian to-the-manner-born upstairs-downstairs drama as all the rest of America.

It seems like most Americans also have a big soft spot for Tom Branson, the chaffeur-turned-land-agent who married the Earl's beautiful youngest daughter, Sybil, who subsequently died giving birth to their daughter.  Tom has many qualities that appeal to Americans:  he's entrepreneurial, he's politically radical, he disregards the traditional class status of the British gentry, he was able to crack into their rarefied air sheerly on his own merit and personality (although purists would say he sold out).  He's a favorite, for sure.

On last night's episode, Tom hears Lady Mary breaking off her relationship with racecar driver Henry Talbot, mostly because she is terrified that he will die in the same way as her first husband, Matthew Crawley (car wreck - I told you it's a huge soap opera).  This is a perfectly reasonable fear, in my estimation.  No one could blame Lady Mary for wanting to play it safe, when she has suffered as much as she did over Matthew's death.

But Tom comes with the most heartbreakingly beautiful insight:  "You're frightened of being hurt again.  But let me tell you this:  you will be hurt again, and so will I, because being hurt is part of being alive."

How my heart leapt in agreement as I heard Tom utter those words!

Sometimes I teeter on the edge of terrible bitterness when I think of how much hurt my 31 years have contained.  A divided home, abandonment, early death, addiction, divorce, heartbreak.  It seems like way more than one person should have to bear.  It can quickly spiral into self-pity, or a superiority complex, or any number of ugly ways that are essentially about protecting myself.

But . . . what a huge amount of life I have been privileged to experience already.  God has entrusted me with the lessons gleaned from this suffering, and asked me to help gently share them with others.  Being hurt is, indeed, part of being alive.  Most of spend our whole lives trying to figure out how to prevent that truth from manifesting itself.  What if, instead, we try to become "like water," as my best friend Amanda says?  Allowing this hurt to flow through us, allowing it to ripple out and dissipate, but still changing the landscape in important ways?

Friday, February 5, 2016

naming your inner critics

My therapist and I have been working through some stuff based on Internal Family Systems.  The whole idea is pretty basic:  we each have many different parts, or players, in our psyches.  Some are really active, some are held hostage, some are working overtime to protect other parts that have been hurt.  When all is going well and fairly balanced, an executive function called "self" is managing all the parts and letting them take their turns.

It's been pretty super-helpful for me, especially when Jeremy my therapist says really calmly, "Each part of you has good intentions.  Let's respect the intentions they have."

Another vital element of IFS is the inner critic.  Each of us has some variety of critical part inside, working (always with good intentions!) to protect us, or undermine us, or minimize us, or some combination of the above.  There are seven general types of inner critics in this system, although I suspect that many more variations exist:  the perfectionist, the guilt-tripper, the underminer, the destroyer, the molder, the taskmaster, and the inner controller.

In a development that surprises exactly no one who knows me, my critics are the perfectionist and the taskmaster.  They are close allies and collaborators, pushing me hard to achieve mastery and improve productivity.  My self-worth is tied really, really closely to these concepts.  This is all fine and good in the professional world (although it produces some stress), or in hobbies (like cooking or knitting).  But when it comes to people and relationships . . . that's problematic.  People don't behave predictably.  They can't be mastered and checked off my to-do list.  When I don't feel I have mastery of a relationship, it causes me a ton of turmoil.

I have a really complicated relationship with these inner critics, because I deeply respect them and believe they have produced a great deal of success in my life.  I'm almost 31, and I have completed college and graduate school (and am halfway through another graduate degree), have been married, had two children, divorced, and am six years into my career.  I own a home, have a pension and a retirement plan, have two pets, and bake my own bread and churn my own butter.  I lost 30 pounds in the last year.  I can read and translate the Bible from Hebrew and Greek.  NONE of these things would have been even remotely possible without the perfectionist and the taskmaster urging me on.

But . . . at what cost?  How much anxiety, and stress, and hollow victory have these inner critics also produced in me?  How much have I let these parts control me, to the detriment of other, gentler parts that want me to slow down and relax and let my mind wander a little bit?  How many opportunities have I missed out on, simply because I had tunnel vision around my goals - tunnel vision that is the hallmark of my perfectionist and taskmaster?

So, what's your critic?  What is your critic's honorable intention?  How can you respect the contribution of the critic, but also ask them to take a rest for awhile?

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

mood ii

"i got some things i need to say

callin' out a friend of mine."