Whats in a size…

I spent the day today working through my collection of clothing. I have clothes that cover a wide array of sizes and this whole journey to wellness is now allowing me to sort and rid myself of an over abundance of clothes. I learned it is good to do with someone (thanks Mom) because there are some items I likely would not get rid of if I were sorting alone. I did not quite complete the process, but I am looking forward to completing the process this weekend and then passing the clothes on to others who might enjoy them.

I was reminded today that sizing varies in so many ways. I had been thinking that I would like to fit into a size 10 when I am at my goal, but perhaps today was a good reminder to not cement myself into any number goals. It was amazing to me how I fit into a six number range in sizes today. I know one thing for sure, in the few hours I was trying on and sorting clothing, my size did not change! I want to trust how something feels and make decisions based on what is real…not what number is on the tag.

And so i wonder if there are other places in my life that I create a box for myself that restricts me from living more freely. I want to learn to trust my heart, mind and gut. Somehow I think if I trust those three places in my being, I will find that I worry less about a number on the scale, what size my clothes are or how much is in my bank account. I believe if I trust my heart, mind and gut….God will be honored and life will be enjoyed!

Lessons learned while hungry….

I am committed to a 40 day food plan that has me fasting from many of my daily comfort foods. I am struck by how my food choices have changed since the days of Fitness North, not that long ago, but how new comfort foods have stepped up to the plate! I am learning that even healthy choices can serve a “wrong” purpose. I have been learning so much about portion control and the difference between what my mind wants and what my body needs. I am pleased to say that since October, my portion control has changed dramatically. In this coming season, it is changing more. I am learning more about the true purpose of food and the many distorted ways I utilize food.

During this next phase of growth and learning, I am preparing only the amount of food I am allotted. I am training my mind to be satisfied without just a little more. I am learning that my body can be satisfied with much less than my mind believes. I am learning the balance between life is to be enjoyed (and often food is a part of that enjoyment) and food is nutritional and allows us energy to live a life of service.

And so, as I end this day with pangs of hunger, I am reminded how fortunate I am to have choices about food and how much I consume. Many people in our world are dying of starvation and do not know anything about the accessibility and abundance I am blessed to experience every day.

May I remember that lives are lost, hearts are numbed, and gluttony is practiced when too much food is consumed. I desire to live…to live fully alive…and in that, I can learn valuable lessons while being a bit hungry!

Wearing the love…

Today I put on my charm bracelet as I left the house. Now, this is no ordinary charm bracelet. This is the gift I received on my 40th birthday from my family. My parent’s gifted me the bracelet itself and then each person or family unit presented me with charms and a story of why they chose that charm for me.

This bracelet contains the following love charms…

Aunt Dot gifted me….

A sunshine charm cause her and I travel to the sun together

A follow your dreams charm because she has supported me in the start-up of Visiting Angels and many other dreams

Hermie gifted me….

A live, laugh, love charm because I live these words AND love words.

Len and Marcia, Olivia, Noah, Sonta and Jean Marc gifted me….

A heart charm that is inscribed with “Haiti”

My birthstone charm because I am special

A sombrero charm representing our trip to Mexico to celebrate

An Angel charm because of Visiting Angels of West Michigan

Nick and Jonna, Andrew and Ryan gifted me….

A drill charm cause Nick is willingly my handy man

A number 2 charm cause we have an inside family joke on that one.

A football charm cause I go to Chicago to watch Andrew play football

A cello charm cause Ryan plays cello and I enjoy his concerts

Arlene and Dan, Janneke, Henry, Anne, Karolyn, Ellie gifted me….

A balloons charm cause Dan remembers how I would send the kids balloons for their birthday when they lived in California and Minnesota

A wreath charm because Arlene and I have an inside joke

A suitcase charm because I took Janneke to Haiti

A #1 charm for being a great aunt

A dog charm cause Anne is Dutch’s personal trainer

A cruise ship charm cause we went on a cruise as a family to celebrate my 40th

A horse charm because I took Ellie horse back riding

Suzi, Andy, Peter, Isaiah and Johanna gifted me…

A softball charm cause I taught Suzi all her softball skills when I was in HS and she was 8

A clock charm cause I am generous with my time for their family

A heart charm  that says “best babysitter”

A french fries charm cause Peter and Isaiah love to go to McDonalds.


I find that when I put on this bracelet, I can feel the love….

I find that when I put on this bracelet, I can hear the words….

I find when I put on this bracelet, I can see the faces….

I find when I put on this bracelet, I am reminded of how I am blessed to be in the community of my family, to be loved unconditionally by my parents, aunt, brothers and sisters and their spouses and a whole slew of children.

I find when I put on this bracelet, I am aware of how blessed and loved I am.

I think I will wear this bracelet again tomorrow!

I have a dream…

The I Have a Dream Speech

I found it helpful to read the context of the whole speech today. I invite you to read it as well. He had a way of saying what was and calling for change….may we be inspired and faithful in our own daily walks…


In 1950’s America, the equality of man envisioned by the Declaration of Independence was far from a reality. People of color — blacks, Hispanics, Asians — were discriminated against in many ways, both overt and covert. The 1950’s were a turbulent time in America, when racial barriers began to come down due to Supreme Court decisions, like Brown v. Board of Education; and due to an increase in the activism of blacks, fighting for equal rights.

Martin Luther King, Jr., a Baptist minister, was a driving force in the push for racial equality in the 1950’s and the 1960’s. In 1963, King and his staff focused on Birmingham, Alabama. They marched and protested non-violently, raising the ire of local officials who sicced water cannon and police dogs on the marchers, whose ranks included teenagers and children. The bad publicity and break-down of business forced the white leaders of Birmingham to concede to some anti-segregation demands.

Thrust into the national spotlight in Birmingham, where he was arrested and jailed, King helped organize a massive march on Washington, DC, on August 28, 1963. His partners in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom included other religious leaders, labor leaders, and black organizers. The assembled masses marched down the Washington Mall from the Washington Monument to the Lincoln Memorial, heard songs from Bob Dylan and Joan Baez, and heard speeches by actor Charlton Heston, NAACP president Roy Wilkins, and future U.S. Representative from Georgia John Lewis.

King’s appearance was the last of the event; the closing speech was carried live on major television networks. On the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, King evoked the name of Lincoln in his “I Have a Dream” speech, which is credited with mobilizing supporters of desegregation and prompted the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The next year, King was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

The following is the exact text of the spoken speech, transcribed from recordings.

I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation.

Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. So we have come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

In a sense we have come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the unalienable rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked “insufficient funds.” But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. So we have come to cash this check — a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice. We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

Martin Luther King, Jr., delivering his 'I Have a Dream' speech from the steps of Lincoln Memorial. (photo: National Park Service)

It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. Those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. There will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.

We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force. The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. They have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom. We cannot walk alone.

As we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back. There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, “When will you be satisfied?” We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied, as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their selfhood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating “For Whites Only”. We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.

I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.

Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.

I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

I have a dream today.

I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”

And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!

Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!

Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!

But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!

Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!

Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”


Entering into a fast…

I am about to enter into a forty day fast of sorts. I am committed to walking through forty days without many of my daily comforts. I would like to say I am spiritually motivated in this venture, but I was first motivated by my desire for weight loss and health. As I looked at the meal plan I would be committing to for the next season of my journey, I began to consider this next forty days as much more than a journey on the scale.

I have committed to my journey being about wellness as opposed to weight loss and I find that helpful. I find the spiritual journey to be an unfolding of it’s own kind. This next forty days feels as if it is a time when I plan to focus less on the gym and my workouts and more on my spirit and my faith. I don’t know what it will look like. I don’t know what it will result in…but I trust that God is going to lead me and  teach me more about myself and Him.

I will be eating for nutrition only and my options will be limited and somewhat dull. But I will eat enough to sustain myself and learn how my mind and heart respond when I desire or crave something which I will not allow myself. I will learn more about the power of my mind, body and spirit. I am committed to living each day out with the recognition that this is a choice I am making and one that has an end in sight…but also very aware that I go through my day-to-day, denying myself of very little. I believe the timing is right and the journey will be worthwhile.

It could have been Broadway…

I named this post today not because of the quality of the acting but the enthusiasm of the crowd. Today I enjoyed taking Peter and Isaiah to the Yogi Bear Movie. I found it just delightful to listen to the responses of the children as the storyline unfolded before their eyes. There was spontaneous laughter, sometimes as a group and often from varying seats in the audience. I could over hear the comments of young minds as they responded to the goofy and silly behaviors of Yogi. At times you could tell that kids laughed because they heard others laugh, other times it was the laughter that is heard when a child believes they have not ever seen anything funnier. I also heard comments throughout… “I don’t think that was very funny,” “I wish I was Yogi,” “What they are doing is wrong” (cutting down the trees in the forest), and “go yogi go!”

At the end of the movie, there was spontaneous and ongoing applause. It was a crowd that was so delighted and willing to share that as a group. It was a happy place and one where freedom of expression was heard often.

It got me thinking….

I wonder when children lose the freedom to be so free-spirited. When do children lose the ability to fully immerse themselves into a goofy movie (or life experience) and not be critical of something or someone? When do children have the freedom to share their thoughts so freely and out loud and express applause at the end of something they delightfully enjoyed?

It was well worth the 21 dollars it cost me to go to the movies to see and experience the joy of the moment. I hope to experience more of the delight of children in 2011. I also hope to be a woman who brings some of that freedom of laughter, delight, and appreciation into my every day adult world. May I not hesitate to laugh alone or with others, to share my thoughts freely and to applaud and celebrate when my heart feels so moved.

Hats off….

to all you parents out there.

Tonight I took Peter (age 7 /2), Isaiah (age 4 3/4) and Johanna (1 1/2) home so Suzi and Andy can paint their kitchen. I went the easy route and ordered pizza since by the time I was headed home from picking up Dutch at camp bow-wow,  they were declaring their hunger. As I drove home, they were talking about playing WII and watching Disney. I was thinking about what we could do that was non electronic. We got home and I quickly cleared off the table for our nice and hot Papa John’s pizza that showed up in the shortest time ever. The boys ate well and eagerly shared about their day. Johanna loves to share her food with Dutch and I am not sure which of those two had more pizza, but both were calm and content through dinner. Then it came to cleaning up, assisting with WII troubleshooting, responding to Dutch’s ring of the bell to beckon me to play fetch, Johanna’s sweet and lively requests to sing Wheels on the Bus and to be picked up and put down so she can touch your hair, find your neck and point to your elbows and touch your knees. In the meantime, Isaiah and Peter had a tiff of some sort, Johanna grunted and groaned in the corner, and dishes got done. (Thanks to Aunt Dot). I couldn’t believe it was only seven o clock. As I looked at myself, I was wearing my sweats, my work shirt, very non matching socks and a scarf. I looked hilarious. I thought to myself,  I am a working Aunt. I haven’t had a moment to complete one task for myself. And I did not have time to do anything about my funny looks then either. Quickly the night unfolded with bedtime routines (although I am not sure the teeth got brushed), reading books and snuggling, I realized I was exhausted and happy. I am not sure what I did all evening and what happened to the time between the end of the work day and bedtime for the kiddos, but I want to say,

hats off to all you parents who do this every day.