Monday, September 12, 2011

Looking Forward, Looking Back

Bald River Falls, Cherokee National Forest
Tellico Plains, TN - September 8, 2011

I will tell you that this is not the post I had planned for this morning.  But sometimes, there are so many emotions in a span of 24 hours that point one in a different direction, it finally becomes impossible to ignore.  My thoughts are all in a jumble, but I have been able to reach a few conclusions and in sharing them with Mr. B, have reached a calm sense of peace about the challenge set before me. Now I share them with you.

Like everyone else in this country, I have spent many moments remembering September 11, 2001.  What I was doing, what I was feeling, the disbelief at what I was seeing and the horror of comprehension.  But in my own unique way of looking at things, I chose to spend more time looking forward than in looking back.  And I have been searching for the way that I can personally and privately honor all those who lives were lost by making changes in my own life that reflect my level of care and compassion for those around me, the country in which I live and the world at large.  

I believe that has to start right in the very core of who I am and radiate outwardly from deep within.  For the most part, I am content with who I am, the values I hold dear, the goals I have achieved and the ones toward which I am working.  But the one with which I continue to struggle is the inability to find my way back to goal weight.  I am not obese and I am still very proud of the fact that I have NOT regained even half the weight I lost in 2006.2007.  But I have gained enough to tell it in my energy level and stamina, not to mention my clothes.  I have stopped and started way too many times.  And that is what frustrates me.  I make up my mind to do it.  Convince myself of all the facts and truly grasp that a few months of concentrated effort is all it would take.  But I continue to make poor choices.

About a year ago, I began following a blog that has nothing to do with weight loss or healthy eating.  It is a hiking blog that I happened upon when I "googled" the name of a specific hike that I was planning to do and looking for accounts written by folks who had actually done it.  Royce's blog popped up, his trail narrative was very helpful and I began following his quest to hike all the trails in the Smokies and his journey with ALS (Lou Gehrig's Disease).  Royce lives just over the mountain from me in North Carolina, so most of the places he talks about in his blog are places with which I am familiar.  I'd noticed that it had been awhile since he had posted, so was excited yesterday afternoon when a new post popped up in my reader.  Here is a link to that post, but it was this sentence about midway through the post that gave me pause and then shook me to the very core, "I am however finally disappointed to announce that I can no longer hike. I have the energy to do so and the will power, I just lack the ability to walk down hill without pain."  Not very long ago, Royce was an athlete whose efforts put my meager hiking accomplishments to shame.  And here he is announcing to his readers that a horrid disease has forced him to end his quest for a goal that had become very important to him.  My heart breaks for he and his wife, Natalie.  

How can I, just a normal everyday Tennessee hillbilly, honor Royce's efforts and the life of each soul who died ten years ago yesterday?  How can I pay my respects to their families?  How can I tell them I care?  

Royce Cowen does not have a choice.  The people who died on 9/11 did not choose to die.  Their families did not choose to have their lives forever changed.   

But I do have a choice and I choose to honor all of those people, their families and Royce Cowan by exercising a level of care and compassion that starts with ME.  I cannot be fully content with who I am until my weight is where I want it to be.  I have been there - I know what it feels like.  And I want it back.  I have a choice and it grieves me more than I can express in words to think that my choices are right in front of me to do with as I please. When others have NO choice, I willfully continue making such poor ones.  But starting now, my choice is to work toward the goal until I can say, "it is finished."  

Mr. B has pledged his support as he always does.  It is 16 weeks from yesterday to New Year's Day.  That's plenty of time to accomplish great things.  I know - I've done it before.  And I've done it in that timeframe at this exact time of year.  

I had to do something.   This is what I can do. 


  1. Very thoughtful and passionate post, Sharon. I am in agreement. We do have choices. Everyday. Each and every day. I always think of Oprah adage: Life your best life. That holds true here, too. Everyday. Let your life count.

    I will have a look at Royce's blog. Thanks for sharing his story.

  2. Hmm... 16 weeks from yesterday to New Year's Day. Isn't it funny how sometimes people post things that turn out to be precisely what we need to hear. It's synchronicity. Yesterday, I gave some thought to the message that rang loudly throughout the blog world yesterday that New Year's Resolutions or Goal-Setting is bad... a thing to be avoided. I've decided that's absurd.

    Since I've been trying to "live organically" and "let things unfold naturally," I've sort of become a feather in the wind. I'm not focused on anything. Goals help provide focus.

    I can understand people saying that resolutions per se are negative when they're meant to suddenly and drastically change a person's behavior or personality. But goal-setting is never a bad thing. And if people want to set those goals in January -- so be it.

    You're so right about how it can feel like we're not appreciating our own abilities and continuing to make poor choices when our own present good fortunes are put into perspective when we see the struggles others face. Yesterday, I worked on a list of goals --- and a strategic plan to reach some of them. Some of the goals are abstract, but the strategies are more concrete. I'm going to join you in making the final 16 weeks of 2011 weeks in which I accomplish great things in my life.

  3. One of the things I most admire about you is reflected so well by this post. You care, you think about others, your life goals are bigger than just yourself. While so many of us sat and thought, yesterday, you looked for a way to take those thoughts and act on them. While many would read that post and feel sorry for the hiker, they would then think about themselves, but not in a way as you have... how you can honor him my honoring yourself. You are inspiring. You make me question what I can do today to be a better person.

  4. What a beautiful way to honor Royce by making yourself the best you can be. It makes me feel as if I have been making excuses all this time and I need to focus on what matters. I will be awaiting your future posts to see how you do this.

  5. Thanks for the link to Royce. So very touching, heartbreaking really. But also inspirational to see someone with such a zest for life still making the very best of every day. Makes me want to get up and take a walk right now!!

  6. Sharon, thanks so much for the link to Royce's blog. He is inspirational. As I struggle with my own health issues, it benefits me to read how someone else enjoys and challenges each day, rather than just retreat as I sometimes do. I can learn a lot from him.

  7. You will do it. The passion I read in that indicates a determination that will carry you through to your goal.

    Isn't it odd that sometimes we don't recognize the freedoms we have until they're taken away? You have the strength of character to recognize that in others and use their lessons for yourself. That is a very special characteristic. It will carry you far.

  8. Hi Sharon! I've been thinking the very same thought of getting myself exactly where I want by the new year too. These pounds lost would *not* be for my health. I already got rid of the pounds that made me unhealthy and out of shape.

    These next pounds lost would be for *me* because I deserve it. So I loved this post because it reflects how I feel too. And if you want to buddy up, I certainly do want to eat well through the triple combo holidays coming up, and end up on top of the world and much slimmer for it.

    :-) Marion

  9. What a reflective post, Sharon! When I'm tempted to blow off my exercise or dive into something I haven't "won" in one of my challenges, I remind myself that I'm blessed to have limbs that move and the abundance of choice in what I eat. In that perspective, the journey becomes much easier. Effortless, even. :)

  10. I am cheering you on Sharon! This is a beautiful way to honor everyone you talked about!

  11. Beautiful post Sharon! You have inspired me today! I know without a doubt that you will reach your goals and find success!

    Keep focused!

  12. What a lovely tribute to Royce, and a great post that shows your compassion for people and your passion for life.

  13. A beautifully written post, Sharon. There isn't anything that I can write about this that doesn't move me. I have similar feelings regarding my own mother. One year ago she was completely independent and healthy. One moment passed, she hasn't walked in over a year and may lose her leg at some point in the future. It shakes me to my core as well, and I have no right to bellyache about my 'choice' not to exercise and be as strong as I can be. I honor her when I do not take for granted the things I am able to achieve.
    I commend you and give you a huge virtual hug on this realization. Your compassion towards others never ceases to amaze me.