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I hope you all enjoy my efforts here!

Dec 29, 2009

An Article about me!

AOL apparently has a website called, "That's Fit". A week or two ago, I was interviewed by their reporter via email. I was asked to send photos as well as answer a bunch of questions. For anyone that's interested, click on the title above and you'll go to the link. Or, you can click on it here:


There was one big error, they say I've maintained the weight since April 2008. Don't know where that came from. Other than that, everything is pretty much reported as I said! Hope you guys enjoy reading it!

Nov 30, 2009

Lessons Learned from a One Year Old

For the last 13-14 months, I've had the pleasure of living with a baby and watching him grow. There have been lots of little lessons along the way, as I've watched him continually develop and grow from month to month. However, it's been really eye opening for me in the last couple of months, as I've watched him learn to walk. He took his first steps on his first birthday. If he thought about it, he wouldn't think he could walk. However, as he walked between his mother and me, then his mother and father, he'd be so excited about the person that he was going to, that his body just took over and he'd make it.

After his first steps, I expected him to be off and running. I took off for a week to attend a convention in Seattle just a few days after his birthday. I figured that although he hadn't yet realized he could walk, by the time I came home in a week, he would be off and running. Maybe he'd walk to me when I got back in town, or so I thought.

Wrong! If you're a parent, you already know it doesn't happen that fast. Never having been a parent, I'm learning what it's really like as an "old lady"! (said tongue in cheek) As he spent the next couple of months mastering the walking, it was very instructive to me to watch his progress and how he worked through different stages.

At first, he would have his arms shoulder high to keep himself balanced, and heaven forbid there was anything at all on the floor, no matter how small....he would fall. Eventually over time he learned how to keep his balance and the arms finally came down. Unfortunately, he still fell over any little thing on the floor, especially the riser between the kitchen and the living room. All of a sudden, I noticed, he wasn't falling anymore when he went over the riser, nor over the little obstacles. He was learning how to balance. I also noticed that though he'd initially learned to walk, he didn't know how to get up. He'd crawl to the next object that he could use to get himself up and off he'd go again. He had a lot of failures, especially in the beginning. It took a lot of time and a lot of perseverance.

If you compared his walking to many of the things that we attempt to do. How often do we just simply say, "I can't" and don't even try? The most frustrating student I ever had were the ones who refused to try, and simply said, "I can't", no matter how many times and ways I tried to show them they could. Thankfully the babies haven't acquired the "learned helplessness" I've seen in some students, as a teacher. The night he took his first steps, if he thought about it, he would think he couldn't and not try. However, he had his eyes on the face of a loved one and wanted to go as we encouraged him on. Even once he had done it, he didn't master it, or even fully realized what he could do. He fell a lot. His attempts were few at first, but as he practiced, over time, the attempts increased. Really, he'd probably walked a hundred times and he was still falling and somewhat wobbly; but still, he never gave up. How many of us quit after trying a few times and failing a few times? Do we keep trying and trying and appreciating the small gains? Really, the gains were not quick and immediate by any means, but they were there. I could see them, even though I'm sure he couldn't. He just had faith that he could eventually walk, and kept on going

Babies see people walk and want to walk. No matter how often they fall, how long it takes them to get better at balancing, getting up, or just not falling if they walk over a book or something; they keep trying. They've not been taught to think in terms of failure. They just see what they want, realize they can do something and keep trying and trying. Each of us had to have had perseverance at some point in our lives in order to walk. That's just one example. There are many other skills that we learn on our way from babyhood to growing up. We didn't just wake up and say, oh, I've developed enough to keep my balance and walk, and master it. We failed, and we failed a lot...we never gave up.

I think somehow we forget the lessons and learn how to think, "I can't" or "I'll never get it", or "I'll never be as good as so and so" or various other ways to talk ourselves out of trying new things in our life.

It's also been interesting in watching this little baby, that he takes his clue on how to think from us. One day, I actually fell down the stairs, while I was holding him. Thankfully, we go in slow motions during emergencies, and I was able to get my hand out to hold his head in a way that his head wouldn't hit the floor, but if anything did it was my hand. When we fell, oh my, it hurt me, but all I could see was his face looking at me in surprise. He didn't know what to think. When all I did was tell him reassuringly in a soothing voice, with a smile on my face, "It's OK Finn, you didn't hit your head", he was fine and didn't get upset at all. I told him this accident was OK, so no crying or upset happened. I remember another time he bit me pretty hard in the stomache without realizing it and I reacted in pain saying , "OW!" and pushed his head away. He saw my reaction and immediately started crying, because my reaction upset him. That was minor compared to falling down the stairs!

Through some of these experiences with him in various situations, I really began to realize how he looked to me for how to react or interpret things. He doesn't know. If something happens, and I take it in good stride, so does he. If I don't, neither does he. It kind of hits home the point to me that we can control how we react. We aren't negative and upset because of a situation; but rather because of how we have chosen to react. Most of these reactions are so automatic, we don't realize we are making a choice and do have control. Just like a baby looks to us to learn how to perceive the world, we can consciously look inward and choose other ways to react.

When I fell down the stairs, I chose to react in a soothing calming manner just for Finn's sake. Had I not had him in my arms, my reaction would have been totally different. If I can control my emotions and reactions to be positive ones for him, why can't I do it for myself. Truth be told, I can. My goal right now, is to continue to look to this little baby in my life and continue to learn the lessons to help me evolve and grow as I deal with life's obstacles little and big.

Just because I'm writing about Finn, I'll play the doting great aunt and share some photos. Here he is, at 8 months, wearing the bow from his big sister's birthday presents on her 4th birthday!

I have lots of photos of him sleeping in my arms. He loves to come downstairs to my area of the house and take his naps with me. I treasure the moments. Holding him and looking at his sweet face, makes me live in the "Now" and treasure the moments.

He is so tickled in this little picture that he has a little chair that fits him! I managed to catch him for just a brief moment of delight, before he was off and running again!

Here he is the evening of his first birthday, enjoying his cake. This picture was taken before he took his first steps between me and his mom.

Nov 14, 2009

Writer's Block

I always thought "writer's block" was a fictional term. I'm always able to write at the drop at the hat. However, I now think it's real, and it's most likely a term that describes a mixture of thoughts and feelings that cause one to lose interest in writing. For quite a while, I figured I didn't have anything to write about.

However, that hasn't been true in the last month or two. After my recent trip to a convention in Seattle, the recent Utah Chapter AG Bell Conference, I've had at least two separate posts that I could enter. As I sit hit attempting to craft a post, my interest in posting the entries wanes. I checked in on my blog counters and see people are still stopping by to check my blog out. Guilt begins to register, in not providing something interesting to read for those taking the time to check in. Hence my new topic about my writer's block. It's my attempt to say "Hi", to everyone who checks in and let you know that I'm alive and well.

In my household, my niece has been undergoing chemo therapy for a brain tumor. Much of my spare time during the first round of the chemo was all about helping out with the kids. By the time I get down to my rented portion of the house for the night, there's been no interest in personal endeavors. In fact the week I was gone for the convention in Seattle, I was riddled with guilt at not being here to help out.

She's between rounds of chemo at the moment, but laid up flat in bed with pneumonia. So I'm back to spending a lot of my time off work just trying to help out. Maybe between my job (by the way I quit the 2nd job at the post office a couple of months ago, to spend the weekends taking care of my great nephew who's parent was working horrendous hours during the weekend. I felt someone needed to jump in and help out, because the hours the young boy was having to spend alone just wasn't good for a child his age. So my time that has not been spent working, has often been spent helping out with my niece's kids or my nephew's kid.

Personal fun on the computer? Non-existent! When I had moments to myself, which are rare and far between, the last thing I wanted to do was be on the computer. Perhaps this is the real reason behind the writer's block.

My nephew is returning to regular work hours in the winter, so my weekends that were spend with his son, will return to being my own, at least until I start taking some college classes for a program I've been admitted to. When my niece gets past the pneumonia, there will be a brief spell of free time, before she starts the second round the day after Thanksgiving. I will work on getting past my 'writer's block" and updating my friends and family who check in on the latest events in my life! Meanwhile, thanks to everyone who still cares and checks in, even though I've been virtually absent!

Sep 24, 2009

Living With A Stranger

  • My hands are cold, I put them up to my neck and shoulders to warm them. Instead, I find a bony clavicle pointing out. I can't find a nice section of fat-padded skin to warm them on anywhere now.
  • I lay in bed before going to sleep, playing some games on my PDA, my arms struggle to get comfortable, as they rest on a rib cage. No padded pillow under my skin exists anymore.
  • I attempt to rest my arms on my stomach as I lay in bed, and instead, I feel the hip bone protruding through.
  • I stare at my arms, no longer do I need to tell the phlebotomist where the vein is that I call "Old Faithful". Instead of taking my word for it, despite not feeling or seeing the vein, they now can see the vein that leads to Old Faithful as it snakes up my arm, all the way to the needle site. I now see and feel many blue veins trailing up my arm.
  • I rest one hand on my leg as I drive the car down the freeway. Suddenly, I lift the leg to move my foot over to another peddle. Under my hand I feel a muscle tighten, and the narrow bone underneath it. Wow, I never realized how skinny my bone is, or felt my muscles at work before.
  • My hand rest on my knee and feels its bony curvature. Gone is the time where x-rays had to be used by my doctor as he inserted a needle under the knee cap; when they just couldn't feel the knee cap and be sure where it goes.
  • I see old friends that I've not seen for years. They look at me and see a stranger. They don't have a clue who I am. I have to tell them, it's me, their old friend of many years. Shock registers on their faces, as they realize they do know this stranger after all.
  • I see size x2 in the store as I walk by and think, my gosh, those are huge pants. Yet at one time, I remember they weren't big enough for me at all.
  • I couldn't find much to wear in my size, because I was just plain too big. Now, I'm finding myself hunting through sparse selections, because, it appears I might be getting too small. Huh?
  • I wonder, how long will it take before I get used to this new stranger I live with? Don't misunderstand, I love this new stranger, but it's amazing how much I still struggle to adapt in my mind to the body I now inhabit. I wonder, how long will it take for it to feel normal, or at least familiar to me?

Sep 18, 2009

What's a blog?

I'm beginning to think that I no longer know what a blog is, the way I've been neglecting mine. I don't know why I've had so little interest in the fun parts of the computer. During the summer I avoided the computer like the plague. Now that I'm back at school, I work on it at the office, and avoid it like the plague at home. My own home computer crashed last week and I have no idea if I'm even interested in even taking it in for diagnosis, or replacing. I certainly can't afford to replace it.

I finally took a BIG step. I quit my 2nd job. Money will be tight and I will have to learn to pinch my pennies. Initially I contemplated quitting as it was impossible, in my mind, to work two jobs 7 days a week, and take two classes in a semester; and still maintaining my sanity. My endorsement program and it's prerequisites are going to have to wait until January to begin. The program is at Utah State in Logan, so I'd have to take the classes online. Well, long story short; they didn't have the accommodations in place to provide captioning for the online classes. In January it should be in place. Until then I have a reprieve!

I could have continued to work two jobs until January. Inside, I was dragging my heels at that idea, despite the need for money. However, recently a family situation came up with my extended family, where I saw a ahuge need. I have a young family member I feel strongly that I need to be there for on the weekends. Once, I realized the need; it was easy...I quit my job the next day. I'll figure out a way to get by financially. Family matters before all else in my life.

I just realized that when I write so seldom, my blogs are boring! I end up just reporting the latest and don't even try to be entertaining. I'll work on turning over a new leaf! Maybe I can end this boring post with a comment about something that is boggling my mind when I contemplate.

In December 2005 I was wearing a size 30 or 32. I was more or less moving into size 32 at the time, as my size 30 clothes were getting to be too tight and too uncomfortable. A couple of weeks ago I went to buy some new pants for school, as all mine were too baggy. The size: (prepare for your mind to boggle!) Size 6!!! SIX!!! VII!!! How is that possible? It blows my mind every time I even contemplate it! My weight then, 387. Nearly 400. My weight this morning (150!!!!) I'm about to hit the 140's! How is this possible! I know I did it, but it's hard to believe I DID it! :)

Aug 22, 2009

How I Spent My Summer

I don't know what readers may still be checking my blog out. I guess I've pretty much taken a computer vacation this summer, hence no real blogging. This summer was a different kind of summer. My niece had to go through full time training for about 5 weeks. I offered to babysit, while she did that. See the pictures below to see who I spent most of my time with! My 10 month old great nephew spent many hours cuddling with me while he napped, as the first picture represents. Below that is a picture of Mac and Dalia in Burger King playing. As I've now returned to school, I really am going to miss those long precious days I got to enjoy

I'm not sure how well I will do with blogging at this point. I am returning to my seven day a week work schedule. I always found time to blog, even doing this in the past; as the computer is more a part of my life when school resumes. However, I'm going to be attending a summer program to gain another endorsement to my teaching license. The catch here is: there are some prerequisite classes that I have to take. The professor just recommended I take two classes this quarter. Life is busier than I like, but "This too shall pass"! I'll try to still blog on occasion!

Aug 3, 2009


Yes, I'm so thrilled to announce that I finally made it to goal! After 3 1/2 years, I'm thrilled to finally be there! I'm probably going to lose an additional 5 to 10 lbs, as I can see now see how much fat there is on my body, vs the loose flabby skin.

In the early days of my blog, I pondered what a goal weight should be. I had read that the extra lose flabby skin could weigh anywhere from 2 to 20 lbs. I figured if I set the numbers too low, I may be trying to lose too much, as I had to account for extra skin. Now that I'm there, I can see more clearly. I have just a little too much fat in my hips. Everything else is good. So I will probably shoot for a little more. However, nothing can take away from the fact that I reached GOAL!!!!!!!!! Hip, hip hooray!

Before I close this blog entry, just want to apologize for so little attention to my blog. I've pretty much been on a computer vacation this summer. I've been so very busy. I've become a full time babysitter, while my niece undergoes training for her new job. By the time I can give the kids back to the parents, it's all been about doing things like walking (2 to 5 miles), then relaxing a little before heading to bed. The computer has been the last thing on my mind.

I will be returning to school in the next couple of weeks. After that happens, I should begin to post a little more! Meanwhile, despite the busy schedule, I'm CELEBRATING! I can't believe I finally achieved my GOAL! So everyone, jump up and shout, clap your hands, yell out in joy right along with me! :)

Jun 30, 2009

Interesting Insight

I realized something so interesting today, that I wanted to share my latest insight. I'll start off by giving you some background.

When I weighed in at 387, and was on oxygen 24/7, I was pretty incapacitated in many ways. I had to move to another apartment, due to plans of my then landlord, to renovate the place. I wasn't really able to pack or carry a single box in the move. I had a hard time walking 10 feet, even with oxygen. It was tough to lug around that little oxygen tank, or so I thought. I had friends and family pretty much pack up my whole apartment and move it, while I sat and watched.

With the loss of the 227 1/2 lbs so far, obviously many things in my life have really changed. Recently, a family member underwent surgery. Due to it's effects on her, I've stepped in to carry the heavy loads, she can't or shouldn't. In the past, I remember feeling so sorry for people carrying the heavy loads for me. Here I am, a few years later, and I am carrying the heavier loads when needed and helping out.

What's interesting to me though, is that no matter what I was carrying both today, and in the past since I've become more able, NONE of it has been hard to carry. It always seems so easy and I often feel energetic and ready to do more after each task I've completed. I finally realized something today. NOTHING is as hard to lift or carry around as the 227 extra lbs I used to take everywhere I went. It was harder for me to walk across the room, than it is for me now to carry many heavy loads around. I can unload the car of all the big items my family member bought at Costco, with many trips from my car parked on the street into the house, then turn around and bring in her sleeping children from the car one at a time; and still have plenty of energy to do more.

No wonder I could barely move from anywhere I was ever sitting in the past. I wasn't in any kind of shape to carry 227 extra pounds anywhere, yet I spent every moment of my life doing so. How sweet it is to be able to do just about EVERYTHING I need to do, or want to do and to find it all so EASY to do. No wonder I find myself sometimes at late at night, as I head to bed, dancing and prancing around as I get ready for bed! :) I've got so much energy to spare, now that I have a drastically smaller body to move. Sweet!

Jun 28, 2009

Maybe this year!

I've once again been contacted by PR at Jenny Craig. They are definitely going to try and see if they can get my story submitted to People magazine for their next "Half my Size" issue. Last year, we were too close to the deadline to really get it in. This year we are starting early. Cross your fingers for me everyone!

By the way, if anyone out there is inspired by my story, please share with me anything you'd like about how I may have inspired you. Jenny Craig PR has asked me to include that information for them when I submit more pictures and details of my story. So, I'd love to hear from anyone that hasn't something for me to include. They will really have to "sell" my story so that it will stand out from the rest. Anything you guys know that will help sell my story would be appreciated.

By the way, I'm currently about 2 1/2 lbs from goal. I'm really encouraged by that. I really struggled in the weeks following my brother's passing. Grief was causing me to resort to emotional eating, and did cause a little weight gain. Thankfully, I finally reached a point I was able get back on program, and lose the weight I gained. So after 227 1/2 lbs lost, I'm almost to my 230 lb loss goal! I've been working towards this since December 2005.

Perseverance really is the key. There have been many bumps in the roads, in the last year, there have been more ups and downs; as the end got nearer. I am amazed at the fact that I'm going to achieve something I thought impossible just 4 years ago; and that I hadn't even dreamed of trying to do. Four years ago, I had given up any dreams of a better life. Perseverance and a dream, among other things got me here. Incredible!

Jun 16, 2009

My Beloved Brother

Last week I lost my brother. I'm truly grateful that I had the opportunity to have such a wonderful brother in my life. I have so many wonderful memories to sustain me at this time.

During a sleepless night, just prior to the funeral, I found comfort going to my computer, looking at pictures and videos from a visit I had with him last summer. My favorite pictures are he and I standing together, arm in arm. If you can't tell by the expression of on my face, I do adore him.

I love the picture below, as he was often laughing and joking. Seeing this picture makes me smile, and reminds me of his awesome sense of humor.

Sad as this time is for me, I'm grateful for the honor I had to be by his bedside during those last few days of his life. Emotionally they were tough, but I am so grateful for all the moments I could comfort him, hold his face in my hands and tell him that I loved him. He told me he loved me, surprised me with a sweet stroke of my face, in another moment, unexpectedly, and weakly lifted up his arms to hug me more than once. I will treasure these moments forever. I'm grateful for those last few days with him, hard as they were.

Bob, I love you. I'm so grateful I had such an extraordinary brother in my life. While I suffer from grief for myself right now, I know you are in a better place, happy and whole. Thank you for everything you did for me in life.
P. S. In the next day or two, I'll add a video I love, from that time; provided I can figure out how to edit it. So if anyone is still reading my blog (and counters seem to indicate no one is anymore check back here then.
Later note: I guess I won't be adding a video as it's been sooooo long since I learned how to do it in a class, that I've totally forgotten how! Maybe when I get time. Meanwhile, any family members that read this. If you want to see the videos I have of Bob, contact me and I'll send them to you.

May 23, 2009

Weight Loss Fallacy

A few weeks ago I was watching Oprah. Her guest were Kirstie Alley, and a man known who has lost more weight than anyone ever has. It was all about people that have fallen off the wagon and gained weight. The man had lost 1000 lbs, then gained it all back.

I've been there, lose weight, gain it back, lose weight, gain it back. this time around, my attitude and how I regard this whole process is a very different thing. To start with, I didn't go on a 'diet'. Diets are restrictive and a 4 letter word with me. In truth, it's all the many times that I was such a successful dieter that made me so fat. Research has proven that the majority of people that lose weight, gain it back, plus more. The first time I ever had to lose weight, I only had to lose 40 lbs to be thin. For 20 years, I went up and down the scale, starting in high school and ending in my 40's. I finally realized no more diets.

When I was watching Oprah, the champion dieter, who had lost 1000 lbs, gained it back and was trying to lose again said something very interesting. There was a picture of him the day he reached goal weight. He said that after that picture and reaching goal weight, he went home and started eating. Then he said something that I realized is the whole problem with "dieting". He said something to the effect that when you start a diet, you intend to lose the weight, then at some point in time you get off the diet.

That is the weight loss fallacy. You HAVE to start a program to change the way you handle food, if you want success. You also have to change how you handle exercise, or the lack thereof. Granted, exercise is something I've come to understand more now, than I did the first three years of my weight loss journey. But it's still part of the key.

When I first started Jenny Craig, my daily caloric program was 2000 calories. My body could eat more because it worked so hard to drag this nearly 400 lb body around everywhere. After a certain weight was achieved, I went down to 1700 calories. Quite some time later, another weight was achieved and I had to go down to 1500 calories. Finally, I reached a weight where I had to go to 1200 calories a day.

There's a "Healthy Utah" program that is offered by the State of Utah, for whom I work. I attended an evaluation, where they checked my health and one of the things that was written on the paper, on top of my cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, weight and other things, was the amount of calories to "maintain" my weight. It was something like 1589. What????

That's when it first began to click with me. I always knew that in this journey, I had to change the way I ate and could never go back to binging, emotional eating and all the other things I did. That is why a huge part of my journey wasn't just the Jenny Craig program, but renovating my whole life, most especially how I think. If I didn't change my brain, I would immediately go "off a diet, and go back to old habits". I remembered my struggle at first when I went to 1700 calories, then 1500, then 1200. To realize that 1700 calories would eventually cause me to gain weight, as my body is so small now, and takes so little energy to drag it around and live my day. I finally realized that to embark on a true weight loss program means not just changing my brain, but ALWAYS being aware of calories. I hated that. However, this was all made easier and much more bearable when I finally realized that if I wanted to "relax" and enjoy the special occasions here and there, I needed to burn more calories. That is when I finally got on the exercise bandwagon, and have started to become a walker.

It's a weight loss fallacy that you start a diet, and get off. You NEVER get off, unless you want to be back on the "yo-yo" gain and lose bandwagon again. I have to admit that one of the things that I REALLY like about Jenny Craig, is that their food is so good, that I don't feel like I'm being restrictive in anyway. That is good for my frame of mind. While I can't just go off program constantly, eat the high calorie things frequently, unless I want to sabotage myself; at least I can enjoy the foods I do eat, plan for special events and limit the extent of eating at the special occasions. I plan to be on Jenny Craig for life, just because I love their food, but also, because it takes a lot of pressure off me. I don't have to worry. I can enjoy the food, yet still engage in my social life and go out to eat occasionally. Planned times off program, can be accompanied by exercise to burn off those extra calories! Eureka, I CAN do that! :)

May 22, 2009

Pedometer Push

It seems to take me a long time to learn what I really need to know, even the basic stuff! I hear information, but somehow it doesn't register or click. I've realized that my struggles to lose the last 5 lbs, as well as to keep from gaining during these last few months relies so much on exercise. If I am ready for a little more freedom with my food plan, then I need to boost up the exercise. To not do so, only makes my journey more difficult, if not outright sabotage.

Initially, I planned to join a gym. I've been members of gyms for long periods of time before. Eventually, I would quit going, and continue to pay. Always telling myself that I would go. I started investigating the different gyms near me, and even found a good deal. However, the real truth, I mentioned to my Jenny Craig center's manager, I hate to exercise. I have my own treadmill and hate to get on it. I was fighting with myself to make myself get on it. When I'd get on, then I'd set a goal, and push myself harder and higher, to the point where I did far more than I really wanted. Then I'd hate it more! She told me, DON'T join a gym and throw away your money. Just go walking! Was it that simple? It was after this that I discovered and did a I did a post in April about the Jordan River Parkway/bike path, my friend introduced me to. I discovered I liked walking.

With that discovery in mind, I saw the cutest little pedometer below at my Jenny Craig center and bought it. You can see the pedometer when it's closed in my picture below, as well as when it is open. Oh, and I must tell you that I took this picture early in the morning. The number of steps listed are VERY low due to this.

I started to wear my cute little pedometer. A funny thing happened as a result. As I began to wear it, I found myself becoming very aware every day of a few things. I learned how many steps I take on average. I watched the numbers go up and up and up when I went on very long walks lasting one or two hours. I would get so excited when I'd go for a walk and the numbers would come back so high! It turned out to motivate me even more. On busy days, when it was hard to find time to fit in a long walk, I'd find other ways to do it. I would eat my lunch in 15 minutes, then spend the rest of my lunch time on a brisk walk, trying to bring those numbers up. I found myself parking my car far away from where I needed to go, just so I could get those numbers bumped up! It's been fun to see the numbers go up, to realize all the little things I can do throughout the day to bump them up.

Last week I found a reality show on TV called, "I Want to Save Your Life", that I checked out. Apparently this guy helps people to make the changes they need to, in order to lose their weight and "save their lives". In the episode, he gave the couple a pedometer, and encouraged them to do about 10,000 steps a day. It clicked. I realized I'd heard that somewhere before, and more than once! Only now that I discover the pedometer for myself, I wonder why it took me so long to just discover how easy it is to just "walk"! Just keep adding those steps to my pedometer! Yes, it IS that easy!

Now granted, I'm probably not in wonderful shape and awesomely fit like you see from the people who spend lots of time in the gyms. Who knows, maybe someday I will change my views and find myself in the gym. Or maybe I'll find something else I like, that like walking, is "just that easy". For now, progress comes bit by bit, not all at once. I'm thrilled just to find another piece of the puzzle in my journey!

May 1, 2009

Posting a Gratitude Blog posting

I have a private gratitude blog I keep that is very private. After reading a comment made after one of my entries in that blog; I decided that maybe this is one I should copy and post here on my public blog! The original date I entered this is my other blog is April 19th. Hope you'll all enjoy it!

(Copied from private gratitude blog)
I was just thinking today of how lucky I am to experience everything that I'm experiencing. I've gotta do a gratitude blog after thinking about all this while I worked.
  1. I'm so grateful for Jenny Craig. I think without it, my health was so bad, it's possible I wouldn't still be alive by now.
  2. I'm grateful to be alive and experiencing a life that is nothing short of miraculous. I've got two cochlear implants, lost 225 pounds, found love in my heart and joy in every minute and with whomever I encounter.
  3. I'm grateful to Dick who's fatal journey and how he lived it was so inspirational to me, it made my current journey and life possible.
  4. I'm grateful that I can walk several miles without oxygen, get down on the floor and back up with no problem, can fit regular seats, can 4 wheel in the desert, fit on a 4 wheeler, climb up a mountain, flirt with fun male friends, interact with just about everyone without shyness.
  5. I'm grateful for the search to learn and to grow and the results and profound change that journey has been.
  6. I'm grateful that I believe and live as if there are endless possibilities ahead and dreams that I can reach.

Apr 28, 2009

Lessons in Planning

Here is the last of my posts, detailing my adventures. This one is a "not so great adventure", but a lesson for me otherwise.

When I returned home from Celebration, I had gone through some of my cochlear equipment stored in my closet. I realized that because I had two cochlear implants, I actually had an 2nd battery recharger that I wasn't using. I was recharging all my batteries every night on one recharger, and letting the other sit in a box. I took it out and determined that I needed to find some place else to keep it, where it would be nice to have 2nd recharger. I hadn't figured out where though.

While packing for St. George, I thought, "Wait! I don't need to pack my battery recharger, I can put the spare one in my suit case. Maybe that's where I can keep it, make it my spare recharger!" I thought I was pretty brilliant! Unfortunately, I NEVER thought to check it out and make sure it had all the parts I needed. Since the cochlear implant is sold world wide, it comes in a kit, where you can select the particular plug your country uses, and attach. I didn't notice that NO plug was attached.

I have a wonderful day on the first day of my trip. In the evening, my first cochlear device beeps at me, warning me that there's only about 5 or 10 minutes of battery time left. Cool, I'll go get the recharger and start it going, inserting the battery I wear while the other one charges. No problem! When I pulled the recharger out of the suitcase, went to plug it in, and noticed, no plugs, the bottom fell out of my whole world. I was immediately horror stricken, as my mind raced all over trying to figure out the impact and what to do. When my spare battery died, which would happen part way through the next day, I would be rendered deaf and in an utterly silent world! I still had a two and a half more days of vacation and fun planned. What would I do without my hearing.

I do have the ability to wear regular hearing aid batteries to power my devices, rather than the recharge ables. However, you must have a little insert to put the batteries in, in order for this to be a viable option. I NEVER packed those inserts! Years of experience found regular hearing aid batteries were in my purse, as they ALWAYS are, but there were of no good without the inserts. I was horror stricken.

Connie, bless her heart, didn't really get what the big deal was. During the years since I've been implanted, she's lived in Southern Utah. We've not had that much time that we could spend together, as we used to, during the many years before implant, when I wore only one hearing aid, and really heard VERY little in comparison to what I do now. So what if I go deaf? That's the person she's used to. She keeps having a hard time taking in all the things I can hear. Me, on the other hand, am now SPOILED by sound! It's made my life easier, and just like the device I wear, named the "Freedom", it does give me freedom.

We had a full calendar of events planned for the 2nd day of my trip. A visit to a ghost town, a hike in Zion's canyon and etc. I was really excited for all that. However, now I was going to go deaf. Do I turn around and drive back to Salt Lake the next day, virtually ending my trip? Connie and her husband were sure I could get a plug that would work on my recharger, at radio shack the next morning. I knew I couldn't. My implant parts are specially engineered by the remarkable Jim Patrick and team in Australia. However, I humored them and we spent the next morning visiting Radio Shack, Batteries Plus and Best Buy, searching for a part.

Once my friends believed me that there would be nor parts locally, we went back to their home and called Cochlear. The nearest place to get the part was Salt Lake (no surprise to me!). However, Connie, bless her heart, realized that we were actually close to Las Vegas. They had lots of places in Vegas. She called the different numbers of Implant Audiologists in Vegas, until we found a wonderful lady who was willing to help us. She had a Freedom sitting their, waiting for a patient who wasn't going to be healed enough from surgery to wear it for a couple of weeks. She took the part out of their kit, and would have Cochlear send another part for them. Not only that, she'd do it for FREE. We just had to drive the two hours to Vegas. For the chance to hear, I would do it gladly! :)

By the time we got to Vegas to her office, it was 2:30 in the afternoon. Gone was our ghost town visit and Zion's hike. More bad luck, she was with a patient when we arrived. Implant audiology appointments are often about an hour or so long, as we "map" the devices to give us hearing. Yep, we spent an hour in the waiting room. After this little adventure, we set out for the Bellagio, ended up at the Mirage (don't know how that happened, as I distinctly put "Bellagio" into map quest!). That was how we ended up seeing the white lions and tigers I wrote about above. We only had two short hours in Vegas, before we had to drive back for a commitment in St. George.

My lesson: "When it comes to my hearing, plan, and make as many back up plans as you possibly think of. It's too important to hear, in the way I life my life. I will make it a point to always pack the inserts that take hearing aid batteries. Secondly, test and try out everything before you pack it! I will NEVER allow myself to be at risk of missing the incredible gift of sound, and living my life to the fullest as a result. Plan A, Plan B and Plan C if necessary will now be a part of all my travel plans!

Apr 25, 2009

4 Wheeling Divas

It has taken me much too long to do the more recent posts I promised, detailing some of my fun travels. When I first decided to renovate my life, I felt like I was "missing out on life". I spent my life in front of the TV, and life just passed me by. There were so many things I had never done, and didn't know if I ever could. Being nearly 400 lbs, linked to my oxygen tank 24/7, I felt there was no way I'd ever get a chance to really have some great experiences.

All the experiences I had due to Cochlear Celebration at the end of March, and my spring vacation in Southern Utah at the beginning of April, were sublime. At one time, I never could have believed I could do the things I've done recently. It was with great delight, that I discovered I was invited to play with my friend Connie on her "new husband's" toys! They have 4 Wheelers. I've never gone 4 Wheeling before, and was delighted at another chance for more opportunities to really LIVE my life and enjoy some absolutely awesome moments. Here are the photos

Here I am, first thing in the morning, all decked out! I borrowed Connie's hat put on my sunglasses and was raring for adventure!

It was pretty cool to find all the unique formations out in the Southern Utah desert. This little "hole in the rock" was one of our beginning finds during our ride.

How in the world could I be able to fit into the crevice in this rock and turn it into my personal little chair! At the moment I sat in this rock, I was marveling that I could actually fit here, and do something fun but small like this as part of my adventure.

Here we are, my friend of some 26 years, Connie, astride our "ride for the day! We had a BALL!!

In my learning to enjoy the moments, I've discovered that instead of hiding from the camera, like I used to, I always MUST, MUST ham it up big time. In previous posts, there is ample documentation of my odd sense of humor at work! With this picture and the one below, I pretend to be a 4 Wheeling daredevil!

This was one of the most beautiful formations that we rode through!

At this place, there were ancient pictrographs from the early Native American Inhabitants. What an awesome thing to find.

We stopped and had lunch by this little river. I was actually suprised to see this little river running through the desert

This picture to me, had the feel of Rocky on the top steps of the museum in I think that old Sylvester Stallone movie. I couldn't believe, that "effortlessly", I climbed up to the top of this particular stone formation, with the stone path that went straight down! At one time in my life, I wouldn't have even tried to climb up there. I dared, it was EASY, and I felt heroic and excited to be alive, as I stood up there at the top! Life IS great!

Apr 19, 2009

Lions and Tigers, Oh My! (and dolphins too!)

I spent a few days in Southern Utah for my spring vacation this year. I was so lucky to be able to spend lots of quality time with one of my best friends who lives in La Verkin. One day we made a quick little trip down to Las Vegas. While trying to find The Bellagio, my iPhone mapquest took us to The Mirage! Go figure! Since we ended up there and couldn't find The Bellagio, we made the most of our mapquest error and saw the dolphins, white lions and tigers that are there. Just thought I'd share the pictures! Hope you enjoy them!

Connie and I, inside The Mirage.

A mother dolphin and her baby.

It is amazing to see a white lion. My first sighting ever!

I took this photo because it was amazing that the lion had pulled up the sod and was eat/attacking it!

White tigers enjoying a relaxing day! :)

Eleven month old tigers playing in this picture and the one below. It was fun to watch them run, chase and tussle with each other.

Apr 17, 2009

Wilderness in the City

I search now for ways to be physically active, as it's really a key to my eventual success in this weight battle. My Jenny Craig director advised me to find things to do outside with the weather being so nice, rather than keep searching for a good gym alternative. She suggested this, since I stated how much I hate working out, in the same breath as I'm telling her about a gym search. For now, I've decided to follow her advice and see where it leads me. Thanks to my friend Diane, she helped me out by introducing me to the Jordan River Bike Path that runs along the the Jordan River. I kind of knew it was there, as she's been there many times and told me about it. However, between my two vacations, we fit a small walk in it. After my return, we did a two hour walk in on the last beautiful day before stormy weather came back to roost a while. I was amazed to find all this "wilderness" type landscape in SLC suburban area. I've driven past so many of the areas where we walked, never seeing the hidden paths and realizing what was really there. I thought I'd share the pictures I or Diane took on our two walks through SLC's wilderness! :)

You're kidding me, this is suburban SLC???

More wilderness in my city!

Thanks to Diane for introducing me to this part of the "city"!

Shall I plug my nose and dive in?

Nah! I'll just close my mouth and dive in! My day isn't complete if I don't ham it up for the camera!

Wow! I had no idea this fascinating pathway and river wander right under the freeway I drive!
Looking out at the river while mid-way across! I enjoyed the view!

Apr 12, 2009

More Coming Attractions

I've had a productive evening posting, as you can all see from the previous two posts. However, there's so much more to post! I've been having so much fun, I just can't keep up! Shortly upon returning home, spring vacation arrived! This year I actually planned something fun to do during this time. I went on a trip to St. George area where one of my best friends lives. I've got post to write and pictures to share from that trip. Titles you can expect to see in the near future is: "Wilderness in the City?" "Lions and Tigers Oh My!" (short posts for this, maybe just pictures). "Four Wheeling Divas", and less fun but still to be shared, my experiences and "Lessons in Planning". I'll be in touch!

Celebration Rocks!

This is my last post about Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim! I wanted to share some thoughts about it, ever since I got back! As you've seen by some of my posts, there's been so much to write about, it has taken me time to get to this.

At Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim, I was fortunate to be in a room with literally hundreds and hundreds of people with cochlear implants (I think around 500 to 700 people with them). Everyone from young toddlers to seniors was sporting their implant! It was absolutely incredible! I loved the instant connection and the sense of family that I felt during the whole time.

What's more, due to my own personal journey to change my life, live in the moment and celebrate the "now", I think I enjoyed myself more than I ever have before. I discovered the real me. I discovered that I am an extrovert! I would have never have guessed this at one time. I made so many new friends, lived so much joy, I couldn't contain it. I frequently would dance around with joy. People would watch me and laugh or smile. I wasn't the quite little mouse in the corner that hoped no one would pay attention to me. I felt like I had charisma and drew people to me. I had my own little "Celebration" dance that I frequently did. The music would be playing as we'd enter some of the big events. I'd be dancing and singing, "Celebration!" One old man said to me, "Do you ever run out of energy!" I laughed and smiled, "NO!!" He laughed and said, "I used to be like that when I was young!" I was flattered! Every time he'd see me, he'd laugh and joke with me about my energy!

At Celebration, my batteries kept being charged up and there was more energy than I could keep in my body. I had to let it out. Gone was the shy, isolated person. I'd make friends, be greeted the next day when I'd see the people I'd met the day before with warm hugs. Wow! Instant laughter, instant joy! Oh, and you know what, I found out I am a FLIRT! (You can ask Diane about that one, she got to watch me really go at it!) It was so common to see everyone with a cochlear implant, that after the Celebration ended, and my friends went to Disneyland the next day(Remember "Four Old Ladies Do Disney" post?); something was profoundly missing. I noticed no one there had an implant (except my little group). It was an affirmation to see so many people wearing one, and celebrating, as did I; their own little transformed lives!

What happened to the woman who didn't want to live past 50? What happened to the woman with an oxygen tank who couldn't walk 10 feet without her lip turning a little blue? What happened to the woman who was so embarrassed if anyone noticed her. Obviously, she was NOT the real me. She was buried under tons of fat and negative attitudes. The real "Ann" was on display and having a ball at Celebration 2009! I AM everything I dreamed and wished I could be. The hard work to change how I THINK, is paying off big time. The hard work to loose all the fat that I was hiding behind is paying off as well. The person who could barely move, was at the hotel gym at 10:00 p.m. trying like he dickens to work out hard enough to get her heart rate up to where it was supposed to go! How did she get this fit? While I'm not as fit as I could be, apparently my Jenny Craig program has been awesome for my heart. I had a 13% incline on the treadmill and a high speed (where I felt like I could hardly hang on), before my heart rate would go where it needed to be. Huh? My resting heart rate was usually above 100. Now, it's closer to 50. I'm transformed in so many ways!

I'm grateful to have gone on this journey. I am transformed. The transformed person, can squeeze every ounce of joy that is possible to get, out of the event I've wanted to attend for years, Cochlear Celebration! Celebration! Celebration!! Yes, dance and sing with me, "Celebration!" "Celebration!" Whoo Hoo!!! :)

Pioneering Heroes

Sometimes I wonder if people understand that a big miracle has already happened. Hard work and decades of work on the other side of the world (Australia), during the early 70's on up is directly responsible for transforming my world. Above you see the picture of my number one hero. I haven't been fortunate to meet him, but he is Dr. Graeme Clark. He is the pioneer who did the impossible. His father was a pharmacist who was deaf. Customer's would come into the pharmacy and try to ask in quiet embarrassed voices for private personal items. His father couldn't hear and any attempt at privacy was lost as voices had to be raised. Dr. Clark vowed to find out if there was anyway to help those that are deaf, like his father. He spent years researching, even standing on the street corner begging for money, when there was none to support his research. Without his dream and passion, my life wouldn't be what it is now. I hope to one day meet him. Maybe at Cochlear Celebration 2011 if I'm lucky!

Dr. Clark's first employee was the engineer, Jim Patrick, who's picture I took at Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim. He is the one who had to figure out how to make it all possible, do the engineering. I was fortunate to hear him speak at Cochlear Celebration in Anaheim, to meet him, converse with him, as well as to give him a hug and thank him for all the work he did that transformed my life and those of thousands other. He said in his speech, that there are 120,000 people with implants now. That's 120,000 lives changed. When I got my chance to talk with him, I told him that 120,000 was too small a number. There are millions of lives changed, when you think of all the families who's lives were/are also changed. He had a little petri type dish that contained electrodes that like those that are inside my cochlea. They looked like little specks of gold. When I looked at the same specks in the microscope, I saw the intricate detail of each of the golden rings (as they looked like they were), that will have have finely engineered wire the size of a human hair going through their center, before implantation. I'm amazed. I listened with interest as Jim Patrick talked about the many milestones in their research. He talked about things that happened in 1976, 1978 and etc. Each time he mentioned a date, I'd think of what I was doing in those years. As I told Jim later, if someone had told me on those dates, oh so many years ago, that a man like him was doing the research a half a world away from me in Australia, that would transform my life, I wouldn't have believed it. We NEVER know who is out there working on the next miracle that will touch us. I'm grateful for the current miracle, as well as for the once in a lifetime opportunity to personally meet and converse with one of my pioneering heroes. He was a very enjoyable to chat with later at Disneyland, as we waited for the fireworks to start. All the time, I was thinking, "Pinch me! Am I really standing here shooting the breeze and talking to my hero?"

Rod Saunders is my next pioneering hero. Of the three men I mention here, he is no longer with us. He attended the last Cochlear Celebration in 2007, but passed away later that year. So I wasn't able to meet him in Cochlear Celebration 2009. He was the first person to be implanted with the cochlear implant. I remember all the thinking and struggle before my first implant. Was it worth the risk? In truth, the risk were very minimal for me. I'd already seen lots of people with implants, such as my sister. I had lots of data available to me. Even so, it was a difficult decision. Rod Saunders had none of that. My processor fits on my ear. His processor was a whole roomful of computers. He underwent a surgery no one had ever done or had before. He could only hope to hear when he went into the room, once a week, or however often he went in there as a research subject. He had no clue if he would ever hear, if the surgery would succeed. He was willing to try. That to me is the ultimate bravery. Because of him, 120,000 people can hear now, and millions of lives of their family and friends are touched. While I never will be lucky enough to meet him since he has passed on. Yes, Diane (my friend who reads my blog and frequently posts comments) I am jealous that you got to meet all three of men I've written about here! :) Though I will never meet him, I can still honor him and the role he played in bringing about the miracle I experience every time I attach the processor to my head and turn it on. The sound is on, I'm on the air!
Thank you Dr. Clark, Jim Patrick and Rod Saunders for all the passion, hard work and sacrifice that allow me to talk on the phone, listen to an audio book, enjoy music, overhear jokes, quips and funny remarks, understand the voices of the children, hear the babble of the infant and connect easily with the people I love. Thank you for all the little children I see, learning to talk, listen, hear and be fully part of their families. Isolation isn't something they will have to live with due to this miracle. Their achievements in the future are limitless as this miracle allows them to soar more fully and easily to future greatness. I'm grateful for the opportunity to live a life, touched by a miracle and the pioneers that made it possible.

Apr 5, 2009

Four Old Ladies Do Disney

When Cochlear Celebration ended, myself and my 3 Utah friends stayed behind to spend a day at the theme parks! We certainly didn't fit the normal demographics of Disneyland and California Adventures! Just thought I'd share some pictures! Here we are, screaming on California Screaming!

Adventurous old broads, ain't we? We didn't stop there! Three of us went for a ride on the Tower of Terror! Here, we are again, being dropped out of the sky! :)

I tried to take a picture at one point in the day, and all I got was "tired old ladies" pictures! Don't you agree?

Being a polite photographer, wanting to help the ladies be at their best, I politely said the time worn photographer's phrase, "Smile!" Tired ladies no longer! They look alive! :)

I couldn't resist adding this picture of three of us posing with the letter "A"! If you notice, I'm sitting on the ground here! That in itself is a minor miracle. It wasn't until this last year that I dared to sit on the ground. There was a time I couldn't make it up off the ground without someone on each side of me lifting me up, taking great care to not touch on my bad knee on the way up. Plopping onto the ground to fit in the picture with my friends is a victory of sorts!

Disneyland and California Adventures wore me out! However, there were so many victories in the day, that I'm glad I went. Victories: 1) Being able to spend the day on my feet without too much difficulty. 2) Being able to walk miles and miles, no oxygen in sight. 3) Being able to keep up with the group and walking fast. I used to always lag behind everyone and it nearly killed me to try and walk faster. 4) Being able to fit in all the rides!

Apr 4, 2009

The Price of Embarrassment

I had a lot of fun, engaging in the art of "snappy and witty repartee"! It's not very often I find anyone who's sense of humor clicks with mine and we have tons of fun with this. In one such round, I managed to embarrass him, leaving him speechless! According to his friend Carol, no one is able to do that. After rendering him speechless, he proceeded to pull a dollar out of his bill fold and pay me for that one! The comment that left him speechless, was after he compared something (I can't remember what), to being as difficult as undoing a woman's bra. I cooed back, "I didn't know you had so much experience with that!" He was speechless and couldn't find anything to say in response. The whole group of us laughed as he sputtered, trying to find something to say!

We snapped another picture of him giving me the dollar, in case the lighting was bad on the first picture.

So here I was, crowing with excitement that I could embarrass him and feeling pretty good. Then Carol asked me, "Ann, what's your last name?" What did I do? I certainly didn't answer her, I went searching for my name tag around my neck to show her. You have to understand it was a habit to show name tags with all these cochlear implantees, as it's hard to hear specific names. However, in the midst of hunting for my name tag, I realized what I was doing. The whole group laughed uproariously at my not knowing my last name, without searching for it. I was laughing right along with them in sheepish embarassment! Carol then became the proud recipient of the $1.00, just for embarassing me!

The price of fun? It can't be counted. There is joy to be found, moment to enjoy, in just having simple conversation, laughter, and exchanging witty repartee (I think Diane would call that flirting!) :)

Apr 1, 2009

Where's Goofy?

So does my title lead you to think that I'm going to talk about the Disney character that can be found here with his buddies at Disneyland? I DID see Goofy, and all his friends, but I FOOLED you, (It's still April Fool's Day for at least another 20 minutes!) If you guessed the goofy below, you're WRONG! :)

The real subject of the blog is living in the moment! When you in the moment, you can find joy and goofiness anywhere! Below are three other possible winners you can vote on for the "Where's Goofy"? contest. Ladies and Gentlemen, may I present to you some other possible
candidate for Goofy?


Above you I present candidate #1! Don't ask this innocent little photographer what in the world she did to deserve such brazenly goofy treatment!


Here we have Candidate #2! Believe it or not, this gentlemen can be found all over Cochlear Americas materials and videos. Yes, yes, he is a likable fellow, but I daresay none of this materials shows the Goofy #2 that this naive' little photographer had an encounter with. Believe me, she's not paparazzi!


What? You know her? Really? Well, ladies and gentlemen, I now present for your voting pleasure Candidate #3, Ms. Little Skinny Herself! :) For a little "illegal swaying of the voting bloc", let me present one little tidbit. You'd have never found Goofy #1 or Goofy #2, if Goofy #3 wasn't egging them on! (Vote me, vote me!)

Now that I've presented your three voting options! The polls are now open! (Management regrets to apologize for the elimination of the Disney Goofy. He just wasn't goofy enough for this competition and is out of the race!)

In addition to the voting options below, I have a challenge. Can you figure out what all three "Goofys" have in common! The only clue I will give you is that they did all spend the last weekend attending Cochlear Celebration. Please enter your guesses along with your votes!

(Here's crossing my fingers for a certain someone to win the "Where's Goofy"? contest.)