Tag Archive | strength

Mental makeover

I’m talking to the priest
The high priest
And everybody out there in the universe
If what I’m saying is wrong
Then tell me the right way to say it
Cause I wanna be made over  from “Tina’s Wish,” as performed by Tina Turner

Physical transformations don’t always lead to mental makeovers.  I recently discussed this fact with a friend. Both of us have taken part in fitness challenges. Both of us have experienced weight loss and made great gains in muscle tone. Both of us have lost some of those gains in recent months. Both of us have a different perception of our fitness level than others. For many of us who struggle to be fit and healthy, our mind continues to tell us that we are not.

 

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Samba queen selfie, late February 

The most difficult part of being fit is consistency. I am constantly struggling to strike a balance between family, work, chores, church, dance, and sleep. Fitness can get lost in the shuffle. How I eat is especially prone to changes. Sometimes, I skip meals or grab something unhealthy to go when I do not carve out time to cook or meal prep. I can be inconsistent about my choices. I know many fellow principals who don’t eat until 4 p.m.; often times they stop at a drive-thru and eat during afterschool meetings.  I know what I need to do to eat healthy. The challenge is having the discipline to make it happen.

 

When I was at my most fit last year before Carnaval,  I was happy with how strong I felt. I liked how clothes fit me. But my Carnaval experience ended on such a negative note that I lost sight of why I had worked so hard. I worked hard for myself and to be an example of health for my daughter, not for some costume. Fitness is a gift to myself, not as a challenge to accomplish. I can’t get back into shape for thirty days or six weeks or to look fabulous on Carnaval morning.

So how do I transform my mind? I used to do morning affirmations. Maybe it’s time to give the woman in the mirror more pep talks.  Today, I told myself, “I am strong and I will get stronger.”

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Bearing weight

atlas-woman

Ash Wednesday was a dark day.  I had hoped to attend morning mass but as with many weekday mornings, we ran late and I scolded my daughter.  I dropped her off at my parents’ house, her face troubled, and her eyes downcast.  My workday was a blur of marijuana smoke, distraught parents, frayed nerves and nagging self-doubt. As the day wound down, we learned that across the nation, a fellow high school experienced a terrible tragedy.  I went to church in hopes of getting out from what the day had been. When I walked stiffly and silently into evening mass, I felt weak.

My dance teacher recently noticed that I carry tension between my shoulders. She noted that my heart is open but that I’m carrying so much.   As an educator, as a mother, and as a friend, I have worked on carrying less, to work on carrying myself. The weight that can be overwhelming sometimes. I do it all. I take care of others and myself.  There are days like Ash Wednesday when I feel I have to take care of many people and those days wear on me. Those are the days I wish someone would take care of me. I stopped wishing for that when I didn’t find it; I’m glad I learned to rely on myself. It also deepened my faith.  I know that God takes care of me. He gives me the strength to get through rough days, to stand tall and strong.

I tell myself better a strong back than a weak spine. But that stiff back makes it hard to truly dance.

Declining the invite

invite.pngA week ago, I received an invite to the Red Wedding. I’m still feeling some kind of way about it.  I am a recent convert to Game of Thrones. We are nearly done with Season 4.  I watched the infamous Red Wedding episode over two weeks ago and I’m still recovering from the trauma of the experience. I cried so much, more than I remember doing in a long time.  Anyway, I was sent a message that on the surface seems like a goodwill gesture. If I didn’t know any better, I might think it’s a peace offering. I know good and well it’s not an olive branch unless it’s one with a pointy end for stabbing me.

RooseBoltonChainmail_zps363b2108The Red Wedding represents the ultimate betrayal of trust. If you are invited to the Red Wedding, you’re being bamboozled into a trap.

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I’m not going to accept this invitation. I’ve looked at it. I’ve read it. I thought to myself this is some Game of Thrones ish. This message was strategic. The sender has a history of saying one thing and doing another. This individual has given me good reason to not trust their words, whether spoken or written.  I may be cynical but I read the message as an attempt to get me to trust again.  Nope not today.  I don’t want to hear “The Rains of Castamere.” If you hear this song playing, you best get out and quickly.

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I will admit I felt somewhat vindicated by the message. There was some attempt at making peace. I have already reflected on my history with rattlesnake in pocket syndrome(The plague on all our houses), on channeling my inner mongoose (A fearless favorite,) and giving myself permission to go into Ivan Drago mode. I won’t be duped again. I’m a person of patience and compassion but my eyes are open. I will pray for those who have hurt me. Jesus is going to be the strongest fence that ever was. I will smile and be polite. I know who you are. No Red Wedding for me, no gracias.

The death and life of a friend

“Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” John 11:21

For the fifth and final Sunday of Lent, the Gospel was about the raising of Lazarus.  Verse 21 in Chapter 11 of John reminds me of the losses I’ve faced, especially my friend Brett. His death was the beginning of a series of difficult moments in my life but also a sea change which made me truly commit to healing.  God was never absent in those moments.

When Brett’s health worsened, he was full of serenity and warmth. It was as if his best qualities were magnified in those final moments.  I was moved by his love and gratitude. The closer he got to death, the better and more holy he became.

It is difficult to accept you will lose someone to terminal illness. It is hard to understand God’s glory is present in those moments. On a personal level, I didn’t want to lose my friend. I didn’t want to lose someone who had been my comforter. A lot of people didn’t realize how unwell I was back then; Brett was ministering to me in my hours of need. I sat with him during his illness but it wasn’t enough to help him get past it.

His life and death have served as an example to me. Whenever I’m faced with a challenge, whether it is half-marathon training or my own health woes, I meditate on how Brett prepared to die. It’s hard not to say, “Lord, if you had been here, you could have spared him.” After all these years, the wound is deep. I am hurt I lost my friend the way I did. I am sad I lost a good person.

Lazarus’ death was one of the few times Jesus broke down in tears. He was a minister to the sick and the dying.  Yet he grieved for his friend. Raising Lazarus was both a gift he gave to Lazarus’ grieving sisters and the beginning of the end for Jesus himself.  The Pharisees gained more evidence in their case against Jesus; in challenging the status quo, Jesus was condemned to death. His death, like Lazarus, became a new beginning.

The raising of Lazarus is a foreshadowing of what is to come. As Lent winds down, we reflect on the journey to death, which we walk with loved ones but also our own journey to resurrection.

Jesus raises Lazarus to life - John 11:1-44