Uncomfortableness… the New Beige…

This weekend while I was hacking up all 5 lungs, wheezing like a wheezer song, and trying to breathe out of a quarter of a nostril (stupid re-infected cruditis), I determined I’d watch an episode of Extreme Makeover: Weight Loss Edition to help boost my fresh start desires… aka try to keep myself from holding up a Twinkie factory.  Plus, I like that Chris Powell dude… he’s a smart dude and he isn’t too horrible to look at either.

On this particular episode, there was a lady from Las Vegas.  She was pretty gung ho about wanting Chris’s help in the beginning.  So much so, that in order to be taken on as a client, she walked several miles and up 5 bajillion stairs just to get the chance.  For those not familiar with the show, it’s set up that they follow these people for 1 year as they transform their lives.  It’s set up in 3-month increments where at the end of each increment, they weigh themselves to see if they’ve hit the goal they’ve been given.  The first 3 months, they live in Colorado at a hospital, where they learn about nutrition and exercise, so it’s a pretty controlled environment.  At the end of those 3 months, they are sent home to take the journey in the real world.

The first 3 months, you could tell she wasn’t confident, but she made her goal.  The 2nd 3 months at home, she was less confident, but I believe she still made her goal.  Then the 3rd interval hit… months 7 through 9.  The polish had fallen off the newness of it all and she started skipping exercise sessions, not eating what she should be eating, and then lying about it all.  Chris and his wife, Heidi, tried to change the out-of-control freight train of inevitable weight gain by inviting her back to Colorado to train with them once again.  She reluctantly (and more angrily than anything) packed her bags and came back, only to half-heartedly work her way through exercise sessions with a bitter anger brewing beneath the surface.

Chris confronted her… and what he said to her hit home like a ton of bricks at a Britney Spears concert… You’re afraid of being uncomfortable!  Afraid of the way your legs hurt and it’s hard to breathe when you go all in at an exercise session.  Afraid to feel the feelings of sadness and anger instead of stuffing them down with a Ding Dong (do they make those any more?).  Afraid of being uncomfortable!  In a nut shell… that’s what this life all comes down to.  To advance at anything in our lives, we’re going to HAVE to feel freaking uncomfortable at some points.  It’s the newness of it all that makes it uncomfortable.  The trick is to keep doing the uncomfortable thing until it becomes comfortable to us… and that’s when it’s time to take it to the next level… when it becomes comfortable.

How many times have I not exercised because I didn’t want to get sweaty and/or hated huffing and puffing and burning legs?  How many times have I stuffed my face to feel better about something that has given me anxiety or made me mad?  How many times have I been afraid to be uncomfortable?  Too many to count.

Thank you, Chris Powell for making me realize that it’s part of life… that uncomfortableness… and unless I want to sign up to become a dust bunny in the basement, I best learn to celebrate that uncomfortable feelings bring about stronger men and women.  The Twinkie factory can wait.

Oh, and by the way… the Las Vegas lady… she quit the journey… she was afraid of the uncomfortable and let it get in her way of accomplishing what she wanted so much in the beginning.

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Fresh Starts…

I’ve been thinking today, aka procrastinating my homework, about how thankful I am that we live in a world where there are fresh starts.  As much as I mess up and fall off the neverending railroad track toward success, there’s always that little bit of hope glimmering in the distance… and it’s not lost forever just because I lose my way or fall down… it’s still mine if I want it bad enough.  I was thinking this way in regard to what this blog started out as… my journey to lose 5 people and a horse whilst finding myself along the way.  I had a pretty dang good method going for a few years and I understood what it took and I was focused on where I wanted to go and just how to get there, but then life happened… and things cropped up that took the place of the other things… and I lost my confidence and I got discouraged… and I found myself back at that place that I didn’t know how to get myself out of… back to that person of long ago… the one who just sat by and let things happen to her.  She didn’t control the steam engine and she didn’t know how to turn the key anymore.  It was stuck in the off position… or the idle position because there were times where I’d attempt to right myself.

The truth is… I miss that person… that go getter… the one who took the lard sauce by the horns and steered it in the right direction.  I MISS HER.  It’s overwhelming to me sometimes to think that I had it down… and then I somehow lost it… and forgot how to get it back.  If I could be any more vague in my wording of this post, I’d be crowned Miss Vague-y of the Decade… the lesser known sister of Miss America!

So, while I was thinking of all this stuff today, I got out a pen and a paper and I wrote down Whitney’s Rules For Re-Kicking the Patookus Into Gear… and then I got all gung ho and excited and was raring to go.  Cut to 3 hours later and I felt a sense of overwhelmed horror… I can’t do all of those things perfectly all at the same time… I might as well not do anything.  Been there.  Heard that before.  It’s not realistic to expect myself to hop onto the train tomorrow morning and become conductor, usher, candlestick maker, and baker all on the same day.  It doesn’t work like that.  I could post my list of 55 things I swear to all high heaven I’m going to do, but then I need to tackle them one at a time… adding a new item every week or two or three… because that’s more realistic if I want to be nice to myself along the way and gain that self-esteem that is supposed to be the end all be all of everything stress relief… because I checked… Wonder Bread doesn’t sell the self-esteem starter kits next to the Twinkie aisle anymore.

I’m going to write out my list here… a list of the things I need to get back to doing on a regular basis, but contrary to today’s earlier plans, I’m not going to start them all tomorrow.  I’m going to pick off one at a time like I did back when I owned it.  If anyone sees my train puttering down the track, wave but don’t call the mechanic… she’s just slowly working on loving herself again!

1 – Exercise:  Cardio: At LEAST 30 minutes 3 times a week.  Weightlifting:  Two times a week.
2 – Food logging:  MyFitnessPal.
3 – NO SCALE!!  First weigh-in tomorrow morning, but then focus on the way I feel rather the number on the scale.  Weigh-ins will only happen once a month to make sure I’m moving in the right direction.
4 – Cut down on sweets/sugar.
5 – Make a list of alternative things to do when I want to emotionally eat.  (i.e. use stress relieving techniques, chew gum, brush teeth, etc.)
6 – Make a menu and grocery list once a week.  If it’s not on the list, it doesn’t go in the cart!
7 – Make a list of acceptable healthy snack alternatives rather than go-to easy crap!
8 – Incorporate new veggies/foods into my regular stuff.
9 – Read positive quotes/stories/scripture at least once a day.

My plan is to use jars and pebbles to keep track of my successes.  For the days I exercise/log food properly, a pebble goes into the jar… when I fill up a jar with a certain amount of pebbles, I get a non-food reward, predtermined.

Ready.  Set.  Go…  You got this!

T

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Balloon Head…

I don’t have much concentration space to write a proper post tonight.  My head is like a balloon full of rotted out cottage cheese… take that image to the bank!  Any minute someone is going to come along with a pin… I hope to all Cream O Weber it’s sooner than later!  Walking around with a balloon brain is all sorts of entertainment… like the time I tried to brush my teeth with the hairbrush the other night.  Same idea… different body part.  Or the time my professor thought it would be a good idea to give me a complicated book to read by Tuesday and then tell me to give a 10 minute presentation on my favorite paragraph.  Uhhhh… unless the paragraph be about balloons and cottage cheese, I got nothing, Profesor!   For example, I just had to look up how to spell profesor… turns out that’s not the right way… stupid S’s!

I’m 75% sure it’s a sinus infection/cold, but the other 75% of me thinks it’s a bacterial allergy to sitting in 3-hour classes after sitting at work for 8 hours.  School… turning out cottage cheese brains by the basketfull!  Like for example, if I wasn’t trying to expand my brain by going to school, I wouldn’t have cottage cheese brain today because pea brains can only fit one kernel of cottage cheese inside of them!  I miss my pea brain.  I asked a dude in my Spanish class what he liked about being a girl in Spanish approximately 5 times on Thursday.

Moving on… next question… who’s eating cottage cheese for lunch ever again?  You are welcome!

Isn’t that the cutest?  I passed these little dudes the other afternoon and had to turn around and take a picture!

This is PART of the backyard of one of the home’s in the home show!  I say part because it was just PART of it.  I’m moving in tomorrow.  They won’t ever find me.

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Burrito Chimchanga en el Taco Bello…

There’s a new visitor in my window well of doom and gloom this night.  It seems to be a very PMS-y mouse… or at least one with 8 different personalities.  Right now the personality is the psycho serial killer named Manson as I’m pretty sure he’s eating a hole through my window screen as we speak… and by morning, he’ll have burrowed in through the glass and devoured my left pinky finger.  You don’t eat this body in a day!  It’s meant to be savoured for at least a century and a half!  Pass the bacon!

That aside… and believe you me, I’ve been shrieking every time I hear him rustling the dead leaves and picking at the window screen… how old am I!? We’re going into the 3rd week of fall semester.  I have 2 classes again this semester… another English literature class that meets on Tuesday nights from 5 to 8 and a Spanish class that meets on Thursday nights from 5 to 8.  They both require mucho class participation and basically make me want to vomit on a biweekly basis.  The Spanish class particularly is anxiety ridden.  When I get nervous, I have a hard time remembering words in English let alone a foreign tongue.  

It’s a broadcast course and our Logan classroom is the main classroom where the teacher resides in person.  There are a bajillion television screens throughout the room with people from other cities in Utah.  There’s one in Brigham City, Moab, Ephraim, Tooele, Mount Pleasant, etc.  So, it’s like we in Logan are Jem (she’s truly truly truly outrageous) and all of the other TV screens are the holograms and the misfits (our songs are better).  For most of the class we break into what the teacher calls “pods” (I guess… she teaches the class in Spanish, so basically I just sit there staring at her like a doof-bag while she repeats the same question 800 times hoping that one of the times I’ll be hit by the magical Espanol fairy and suddenly know what the crap she is saying).  A pod consists of one member of our Logan classroom (there are only 5 of us) sitting in front of a TV screen where there are a bunch of students from other cities.  So, it’s me… and then 10 people from Brigham City on a TV screen, which makes me feel like I’m the one who should be in charge of the group since I’m with the teacher and all by my lonesome on a TV screen.  We rotate screens in Logan, but the other cities just sit there and cross their fingers that that one awkward chic doesn’t sit down in front of them.  OH LAWSY!  

Of course, I’m most likely over exaggerating their thoughts, but what do you expect of me with a psycho serial killer mouse on the loose.  Whenever the teacher asks me a question in Spanish I immediately start panicking and then giggle like a 5-year-old on crack cocaine.  Teeheheeehheheheheheehheeeeeeeee   Breathe in… breathe out… this would be a good opportunity to practice my diaphragmatic breathing and/or hide the cookies… ALL the cookies!  

In other OTHER news… we finally got to the Ogden Temple Open House this past Friday.  Beautiful temple!  Except they had crystal candy dishes in every hallway with NO candy!  Grandma B would be appalled.

I’m posting this picture even though Madre’s eyes are closed… you snooze you lose.  Also, I am not in the picture… and that makes me happiest of all.

We also had Corbin’s 7th birthday party celebration with the world’s smallest cake.  Only because there was peach pie to be had.  Who passes that up for cake!?  

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Cascade Springs and Lemons…

Originality in title doesn’t seem to be my strong suit tonight.  Let’s call a dog doo what it is here, folks… a dog doo!  Tomorrow starts Fall Semester up at USU for me.  I swear I just finished summer semester 7 days ago… oh wait… I did.   No rest for the Wicked Witch of the Klutz family!   I had things to square away before the start of the semester, so I took a couple of days off of work to try to make a square peg fit into a round hole, and basically didn’t succeed… but it’s the thought that counts!   Friday was my planned tag-along-with-Madre fun-day before the onslaught of sitting on my amply-padded receptacle for 24/7 began!  

Fun-day this time was supposed to include a Salt Lake City food truck tour excursion… except that didn’t actually end up happening… we had no food from any food trucks… not for lack of trying, though.  It rained quite heavily for at least half the day, and so some of them packed up and left… no one wants to eat a soggy hamburger!  I’m just saying.  

Instead I drug Madre on an excursion up the Uinta Mountains to see what they call Cascade Springs.  It was a lot longer drive than the internet told me it would be, and Madre wasn’t so excited to make said excursion, but we went anyway because I was in the mood to fall down a mountain dag blastit!  Don’t question it!  Just do it! 

The trail was paved, although not evenly paved and rocking horse shoes on uneven surfaces is never a smart idea when you’re born with the gift of Klutz-dom, but I just inched along like a 110-year-old with a catheter and managed to not fall on my face once… although I almost did approximately 57 times… give or take 40 times.  

There were signs warning us not to drink the water… really!?  Do people not know this in the year 2014?  

The nature/short hike in was in memory of sweet Spencer…

After the springs, Madre got to stop at a new outlet mall in Lehi, Utah where I once again prepared my thesis for why there were couches in the actual bathroom… not a place I enjoy lounging.  Nursing mothers… blah, blah, blah… I’m sure they don’t want to lounge in there either!  

Because we missed the food trucks, we instead stopped at Pizzeria Limone where they specialize in uniquely-topped artisan pizzas.  Um… who knew lemon slices on a pizza would be like deliciosity in a bowl of weird!?  

I would recommend the lemon slice pizza… just… trust me!   When pizza gives you lemons… drink lemonade on the side!  

The day ended with a visit to Lindsay’s, a few more stores, and then when trying to get home through our usual Sardine Canyon route, found out at 11:00 at night that Sardine Canyon had been totally closed in both directions due to the rain falling 2 huge, car-sized boulders in the middle of the road!  Oh Utah… what will you do next!?  

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Cowboy Buicks and Weedy Golf…

I’ve decided that my quest in life to honor our sweet Spencer will be to be more present, appreciate being outdoors and the beauty of nature, and to cherish the moments spent with family and friends.  All of which Spencer was such a great example of.   I’d say I got my fair share of all three of those in this week.  I spent nights sitting out on the deck reading, got to see a visiting pal and her beautiful family for a bit on Wednesday (what up, my pal, Alena… Road Trip Eating the States is ON!), and then spent Friday night visiting an old haunt with Kayla and Corbin.  

I have fond memories of this old haunt from my childhood years.  Logan Miniature Golf, back in its heyday, was quite the place to be in the summertime… especially for a frizzy-banged, nerdy, mullet wearer.  I spent many a summer afternoon/evening trying to hit a ball through a moving windmill and trying to get the free golf game at the last pinball hole, but then the years happened… the repairs didn’t happen… the customers dried up… and now the place is a shell of its former self, all lonely-looking and in bad need of repair and a good old-fashioned lawn watering and weeding session.  There’s a MUCH nicer miniature golf course on the other side of town.  It’s newer, well-manicured, and has customers.  We still went to the rundown place… because it had memories… and weeds… but it made me sad to remember the days when it was alive with the voices and laughter of hormoney pre-teens and children.  

This would be the windmill attraction.  Except back in the olden days it had an actual windmill that would go around in circles helped by a motorized component so that it would trip up your golf ball from making it through the slot.  Now it’s basically a red triangle with a roof.  

This one is called the Washington Monument… now after a terrorist attack?

This one was called the Brooklyn Bridge… more like the Broke-lyn Bridge.  

The ancient crumbling totem pole… actual year probably 1775.  Kayla and Corbin seemed to like it anyway… and actually requested it over the newer fancier course.  There’s some things that can’t replace good memories… even if they’re broken down memories! 

Photobombers!  

***

In the second part of the title of this blog post, I had a strange request a few weeks back.  One evening the doorbell rang.  Whitney doesn’t answer the door unless she’s sure the Publisher’s Clearinghouse has her check on the other side.  But this night I happened to have just walked right in front of the door window on my way to pick up a water bottle… so I was stuck… unless the person on the other side was totally blind and partially deaf.  You can’t miss this silhouette otherwise!   

I peaked through the window before I opened it and saw a cowboy in full regalia… hat, boots, wranglers, westerny button down shirt, and one of those fancy mustaches that look like they’ve been super glued at the tips.  My first thought was that one of my dad’s relations was here to visit, so I opened the door.  He took his hat off in a howdy, ma’am manner and proceeded to introduce himself as a guy who lived up the street a few miles.  

I reckon I pass this house near everyday and seen that there Buick.  This may seem strange, but have you ever considered selling that Buick, ma’am?

That caught me off guard right there… ain’t no one in their right mind ever asked to buy Beulah the Broken-Down Buick… let alone called me ma’am like I’m 95 with a gout problem.  Beulah’s air conditioning doesn’t work.  She runs like a bull in Pamplona… and she was born in 1997.  Not someone’s idea of a fabulous vehicle.  I was curious so I asked him why.  To which he replied that his grandma has one just like it and she wanted him to fix hers, but he couldn’t fix it, so he was fixin’ to find one that looked exactly like hers and tell her that he fixed it.  

Um… okay.  

I should have asked him how much he was willing to offer… because I’m pretty sure if it was anything above 14 dollars, I’d have pounced all over that one!  Instead, I told him it was my only car and I’d need it on account of the fact that I was born with a klutzy gene and two left feet plastered in cement blocks.  I then told him that if he gave me his phone number I’d call him if ever I decided to sell it.  I’m sure my asking for his phone number scared the poor dude to death and he quickly mounted his horse and rode off into the sunset.  Kind of like John Wayne’s lesser known brother LeRoy Wayne… except with less Buicks.  

That makes the second time in the last few years someone has offered to buy Beulah.  I guess I should realize the gem of a vehicle I have on my hands more often.  Bird doo and strange gas smells be durned!  

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Camouflage Strollers, Inc.

It’s amazing how when someone you know passes away, every instance you ever spent with them comes rushing back at you like a waterfall of memories.  That’s what happened when I learned last Sunday morning at 7:00 a.m. that my sweet cuzzin, Spencer passed away.  A flood of memories over this last week, nothing big or momentous or hilarious, just small happenings that bring a smile, warm the heart, and make me grateful that I was able to have that moment in time with him.

There was the time… he couldn’t have been more than 8 years old and I was a frizzy mullet-haired, rotund, pimple-popping, hormoney, know-it-all teeny bopper of 14… convinced I knew everything since I was the oldest kid of the group, the group that included Spencer, Lindsay, Jennifer, Michael, and Jessica.  I remember we were all sitting around the table and Spencer was reading a story he had written.  I was sure it couldn’t be good… he was 8… I was 14… I was the most intelligent mullet girl on the planet after all!  But I remember my mouth dropping when he began reading… this kid was intelligent beyond his years… beyond my years… and after I picked my jaw up off the floor, I remember laughing several times throughout that story.  You see, Spencer had a sense of humor for days… even a kid of 8… and I remember saying to myself, this kid is going to do big things in his life.  It’s pretty hard to impress a hormoney mullet wearer… but he did.

There was the time soon after he came up with a brilliant invention, a target designed to continually flip over when you shoot it.  I was impressed once again, and immediately began shooting ideas off of him.  Our best joint invention idea was the camouflage stroller.  It’s a multi-purpose stroller, you see… your kid doesn’t have to be able to walk to go on his or her first hunting trip any longer.  We decided we’d rig up some kind of an under carriage where you could load the deer you just shot… baby’s first deer hunt.  The merchandising sold itself!  It was genius!

There was the time just 10 or 11 months ago, Spencer, Jessica, and myself were charged with chasing Cruz around Temple Square for a few hours while other family members were inside.  We walked around the grounds for a little while, but eventually ended up in the child’s playroom on chairs about 4 inches tall coloring at a table about 6 inches tall.  We talked about roommates and cleanliness and germs and Spencer showed me some of the pictures he took around the Temple of the flowers and grounds, because that was another of his aresenal of talents, nature photography… and he told me of his sweet, beautiful, perfect daughter, Bethany.

The last time Spencer impressed me was just over a month ago at Jessica’s wedding.  He had his beautiful, 3-year-old Bethany with him, and I remember thinking how sweet and gentle and loving he was with her.  I saw him take her down the slide and push her on the swing, jump with her on the trampoline.  She clung to him and you could tell just how much they both loved each other.  Not all dads give their full attention, but he knew it was important…

Of course death is inevitable for each one of us, but when we picture dying, we picture it after having lived a long and full life with grey hairs and rotted out teeth.  No one pictures passing away when they’re young and just beginning on this crazy path of adulthood.  No father or mother expects to bury their child and no brother or sister expects to lose one of their best friends while still in their prime.   God must have had urgent need for a brilliant man with many talents for his Heavenly Army.  I’m grateful that my sweet Berger family knows that this is just a temporary separation from their son, brother, father, and friend.  The time in between the next time they are able to see him will feel long and days and nights will get lonely sometimes and hearts will forever have a piece broken off of them, that piece that Spencer filled up so fully.

I know that Spencer is wearing camouflage up in heaven, a silent cheerleader for his family still on Earth, swapping fish stories with Grandpa Berger and reminding Grandma Berger to lay off the fake purple hair dye.  Because you get to keep your sense of humor in heaven… I’m sure of it.   Much love to Uncle Shane, JenJen, Michael, Jessica, and Leslie, and all those who knew and loved our sweet Spencer.

Lindsay found this story retold by Ezra Taft Benson in a talk:

When the spirits leave their bodies they are in the presence of our Father and God, they are prepared then to see, hear and understand spiritual things.
. . . If the Lord would permit it, and it was His will that it should be done, you could see the spirits that have departed from this world, as plainly as you now see bodies with your natural eyes.
[JD 3:368]

What, then, is death like? Here is a simple incident as told by my friend, Dr. Peter Marshall, the late chaplain of the United States Senate:

In a certain home, a little boy, the only son, was ill with an incurable disease. Month after month the mother had tenderly nursed him, but as the weeks went by and he grew no better, the little fellow gradually began to understand the meaning of death and he, too, realized that soon he was to die. One day his mother had been reading the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, and as she closed the book the boy lay silent for a moment, then asked the question that had been laying on his heart. “Mother, what is it like to die? Mother, does it hurt?” Quick tears filled her eyes. She sprang to her feet and fled to the kitchen, supposedly to go get something. She prayed on the way a silent prayer that the Lord would tell her what to say, and the Lord did tell her. Immediately she knew how to explain it to him. She said, as she returned from the kitchen, “Kenneth, you will remember when you were a little boy, you would play so hard you were too tired to undress and you tumbled into your mother’s bed and fell asleep. In the morning you would wake up and much to your surprise, you would find yourself in your own bed. In the nightyour father would pick you up in his big, strong arms and carry you to your own bedroom. Kenneth, death is like that; we just wake up one morning to find ourselves in the room where we belong because the Lord Jesus loves us.” The lad’s shining face looked up and told her there would be no more fear, only love and trust in his heart as he went to meet the Father in heaven. He never questioned again and several weeks later he fell asleep, just as she had said. This is what death is like.                                                                      [Catherine Marshall, A Man Called Peter, pp. 260 – 61]

The sweet tradition brought from cousins who are on a mission in Tonga, write messages on balloons and send them to Spencer in heaven.

Until we meet again, Spencer.

Quote found by Madre Dessa:

“There is terrible suffering in our world today. Tragic things happen to good people. God does not cause them, nor does He always prevent them. He does, however, strengthen us and bless us with His peace, through earnest prayer.”

—Rex D. Pinegar, “Peace through Prayer,” Ensign, May 1993, 67

My favorite version of How Great Thou Art sung by Carrie Underwood.

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