MISSION #1: Batting Cages

Jennifer recommended I go to the batting cages and hit some balls around (see if I still can without hurting myself) and just make sure that I wouldn’t go out for one game and get injured.  So that was the first MISSION I decided I needed to complete.  IMMEDIATELY the next day I found batting cages (4 minutes from work) and had a go of it.  I was totally EXCITED.  I remembered the swinging just fine and after the first 75 pitches felt I could do okay in a batting situation.  But I didn’t feel DONE, so I got 3 more tokens and decided to have a little fun…  I messed with my stance, played with the timing on my swing, attempted to AIM the ball for a certain area.  I actually RELAXED into hitting.  KINDA COOL!!!

It brought an amazing spring in my step to have set my mind to something and ACTUALLY do it. 

This may seem like the simplest of things, but for some reason every time I begin something new or try something I haven’t tried in FOREVER; my anxiety level SPIKES!  Maybe it was always there, but I just didn’t listen to it.  Maybe it just wasn’t as strong when I was younger.  Maybe I just used food to mute its voice in my head.  Either way some where my life the fear of looking foolish, making a mistake (no matter HOW small or HOW common), being criticized, evaluated, or put down, laughed at, or just plain JUDGED became such a HUGE fear I was paralyzed.  And no positive self talk, encouragement from friends, or spin thinking could loosen the grip fear had on my actions. 

So such a small thing of driving to the batting cages, parking, finding the entrance (going in the WRONG DOOR), ASKING the attendant “So how does this work?” (<– Anyone who knows me knows how hard it is for me to ask for help from strangers… YES that is asking for help), paying the man and walking to the cages… is NO SIMPLE FEAT!  The self talk alone to get me to keep going was practical SCREAMING.  Once in the cage I could relax a bit, no one watching, no one caring, and the whole point of this adventure was to PRACTICE… meaning I was gonna SUCK!  Just know that and KEEP going.  One foot in front of the other… KEEP GOING!!!  Jennifer said I HAD to do this before I would know if I could play, I can’t chicken out, can’t NOT try, can’t procrastinate, your right here, just one more thing, just one more step, just one more obstacle…

So it begins… A series of MISSIONS I have labeled as the steps I need to take to get ready for my first game:  September 19th. Unfortunately, they do not have any practices for the fall ball season, so I get to do this prep work solo.  Although I have been having some help from my friends on this side of the river.  So unintentionally, but on purpose (gotta love facebook) I began listing out a series of missions.  The number first, the status next, description, followed by a comment or two.  As this seems to drudge up some fantastic thoughts and FEEEEEEEELINGS as I’m doing it… there will be just a few posts focused on it.  As it stands today:

MISSION #1 Accomplished: Batting Cages 150 pitches = I still got my swing.
MISSION #2 TBD: Fielding.
MISSION #3 TBSeen: Running bases.
MISSION #4 Practiced: Throwing the ball TO a person (not as easy as I remember) I want my muscles back…
MISSION #5 FOUND: Softball Dynamic Warmup stretches (gotta love google: even have pictures)
MISSION #6 Spent: Sports Authority – Softball Cleats (Nike, ON SALE, BLUE), Bat 33in-28oz 4 practice, Softer Softballs to throw around.

FINAL MISSION Incomplete: Ready to play Softball with people who know what they are doing and not making a fool of myself – Maybe.

Having someting to be working towards… Priceless!!!


Invitation to a Softball Game

In the beginning, there was an invitation…

Hey Christina you play softball? 
I use to…
We have a fall league and we need another girl to play… want to?
(Fill in lots of chatter, questions, and random funny one liners here to continue the conversation)

Since I KNEW the answer to the do you WANT to play… was YES YES YES PLEEEEEEEEEASE; but I didn’t want to seem eager. I was always taught a lady is supposed to play hard to get. (Oh wait I think that was for something else.) The WANT to do something has never been an issue for me.  But as an aging, growing adult I have realized that I have many more limits than I remember.  The mind can say one thing, but the body goes HUH? what’s that I don’t remember doing that.  It doesn’t help that a couple of years ago at a church picnic I jumped in for a casual game and played my usual position (right field) and I couldn’t get to a ball to SAVE MY LIFE.  I was running as hard as I knew how, I was just SLOWER.  I couldn’t anticipate where the ball was going to go (like I use to) and even my specialty of catching flies was NOT up to my standards.  Talk about FEELING like a loser; almost looked like I hadn’t ever played this game before. 

That experience has made me weary of trying it again.  I mean when ya have one bad experience that is supposed to be the NEW standard by which all things will happen exactly the same in the future right?  (History is Destiny, NOT) But when I heard this group has a softball league that plays together back in June I was Soooo excited and TERRIFIED ALL at the same time.  I told myself to be patient there is always next year and that would give me more time to get the body ready.  Cuz even though I am 90 pounds lighter than the last time I played, that doesn’t mean I can run or move AT ALL. 

But here it is… The invitation, the want, the need, the OPPORTUNITY to JUMP in and TRY IT!  And from the minute I started playing with this idea, the safety committee has been in FULL SESSION.  What if you can’t hit anymore?  What if you can’t play outfield? Have you looked at yourself in a mirror lately… do you really want perfect strangers watching that body RUN?  You don’t have a glove, you have never been able to pick out the right bat for yourself, can you even through a ball to a person anymore?  AND THEN THERE ARE THE CLOTHES… what are you gonna WEAR out there in front of all those people? 

It doesn’t take much for the pysche to get completely discouraged and depressed and worn out about all the things I don’t have an answer for.  But there was something about this that sparked a teeny tiny ounce of motivation, desire, WANT TO at least TRY… Ever had one of those THINGS?  Something you really TRULY have NO idea if you can accomplish, but you want to try?  Its been FOREVER that I have even stopped for a moment and let that thought kick itself around LET ALONE start to work itself out in the REAL WORLD. 

Was Christina up for such a LEAP, stretch, adventure? We shall see…

What I have Overcome

There are moments when something  just connects with my heart.  Its been a challenge over the last few months,  trying to find balance between logic and emotion, between what is and what should be, between hope and despair… But in all this I have seemed to find a series of songs that have literally leaped out of the speakers of my car to speak my life into words. To take the emotions I am feeling and the words I can not imagine and put them to music that pierces a point into my soul.  And when I travel for work it is exciting and new and different and I LOVE all those components.  I have never wanted to do an 8-5 in cube land, but then there comes a time when my heart is just longing to go home. There are only so many times a person can pack and unpack their car without it affecting that sense of stability and routine.  Personally, I HATE routine as a general rule… but I am realizing I need some of it for my mind to feel a sense of peace (maybe not a lot… but a little).   

When I am in a place of chaos and upheaval, some of the most raw and deepest emotions CRASH (not float or rise, but CRASH) to the surface.  I am then pushed to find resolution or some form of managing style just to function in my life.  So when those feelings overwhelm me, there seems to be internal affairs team that goes straight work on my self-worth and performs an internal audit on my value as a person.  Regardless of the victories I have had lately or how many people have said “I am amazing”, this team has ability to discount and discard all those things and go straight for the negative points. 

Anyone ever been through an audit?  It’s not about how well you are doing its about writing on  a list all the ways you have “failed” meeting specific standards and conditions.  There is a point by point evaluation by the strict unemotional adherence to the “rules”.  As much as I have grown in encouraging myself and letting myself see me as God sees me – valuable, worthy, beautiful, precious; this audit team has the ability to remind me with LOUD voices I am not perfect – NOT EVEN kinda, or close or even much better than last time.  I mean cuz when you miss things on an audit you don’t get kudos for the B-, it’s a simple Pass or FAIL!!!! No matter how much progress I’ve made, the audit team is never satisfied if they can continue to find imperfections, issues, and problems.

When this song came across my iPod in an almost accidental connection with my brain, at least enough to listen to the WORDS, I realized this needed to be my new fight song.  This needed to be what I repeated in my mind and sang loud and proud to the audit team that wants to insist I am failing in all these areas STILL. 

“What I’ve overcome”

I’ve got this passion, It’s something I can’t describe, It’s so electric, It’s like I’ve just come alive
I feel this freedom, Now that my past is erased, I feel the healing, I’ve found the meaning of grace

If only You come see me yesterday, Who I used to be before I change, You’d see a broken heart, You’d see the battle scars
I’m not what I have done
I’m what I’ve overcome

I know I stumble, I know I still face defeat, This second chance is, What will define me
So I’m moving forward, I’m standing on my two feet, I’ve got momentum, I’ve got someone saving me

I make mistakes and I might fall, But I won’t break, I’ve got someone saving me
Funny how words can’t explain, How good it finally feels to break the chains

I’m not what I have done
I’m what I’ve overcome.

There is just something about that phrase “I’m not what I have done, I’m what I’ve overcome” and in the light of so much these last few months, I am reminded that I have overcome A LOT of things in this life. My mother dying when I was 15, being torn away from the one community I loved and cherished, having to find my own way to pay for college, moving out on my own with no support no back up no home base. Struggled to find direction at church, work, life; Put myself through university and despite all my weaknesses and short comings finally graduated; fought to find a job, get an adult job, and work through my own emotional crap that seems never-ending and poisoning at times. And I still continue to decide I have to remember that I have battled a lot, overcome a lot, and survived a lot. So much of why this song seems to ring so true to me.

So in the most eloquent words of my best friend Heidi, the Audit team can… “SHUT IT!!!” (Insert funny sarcastic comic inflection here, for emphasis.)

Stability and Comfort

When you have a life of chaos, you seem to strive everyday for stability and comfort. But what happens when you obtain those things even just a tiny piece of them. Some how the mind and heart still remains discontented. I was reading a friend’s blog the other day and realized how much meaning and satisfaction must come from serving in a foreign country. And immediately my mind surges to its defense, but its hot and exhausting and stressful and hard and the emotional stress and the fear of the unknown immediately floods to the forefront of my mind when I must resign to believe… I guess that’s something I could never do, but its great that “THEY” can sacrifice that much to serve.

But what if that is a fallacy? What if I really am stronger than I imagine… What if (as the quote says on my wall)… I am stronger than I ever thought I could be? What if this is true, but my anxiousness about the struggles of my past automatically dismiss ANY possibility of me giving or changing or sacrificing because it is TOO hard, TOO much work, TOO much to give, TOO unstable. I mean I have worked my whole life to create the kind of stability I have. I seem to have answered that DEEPEST call within me to survive and be stable; but I am still not content. I am not fulfilled I am not doing the work for the greater good. And I wonder if I will ever find the energy and GUMPTION to step out and do the things I want; or try some things that sound interesting. 

I had that opportunity this week.  A new friend invited me to play softball with their team for a fall season.  I haven’t played in a LOOOOONG time, but have always wanted to play more.  So this seems to be a PERFECT opportunity to do something I have been interested in.  Only like a dozen points of anxiety erupt in my brain when I imagine it – I think the anxiety committee believes it is entitled to assemble WHENEVER I THINK about trying something out of the routine.  What if I can’t hit anymore, what if I’m horrible, what if I look stupid, what if I make a mistake, what if I can’t throw like I need to, and then there is the SILLY thing of running the bases… I don’t like running in front of other people, what if its HUMILIATING?  UGH!!!

All of these thoughts are raging to the forefront of my mind as I am trying to decide what to do.  This new friend recommended I practice hitting at a batting cage to see if I would have any issues… health, body wise.  Then I mentioned I had a knee issue and I wasn’t sure how that would respond.  She mentioned she wears 2 braces on her knee while playing.  So after kicking it around with my friend Brent and finding a set of batting cages 5 min from WORK… I went on an adventure last night to see if I still could hit.  It was OK in the beginning, but I was thinking just ok isn’t gonna cut it… these people have been playing together for like 3-4 YEARS; so I dug deep and started messing with my stance, choking up, leaning out… it was good times.  I ALWAYS do sooo much better experimenting with things when people are NOT watching me. 

So I think I’m in… I want to practice running the bases, but gotta find a place to run where I won’t FEEL like I’m attracting any attention (mostly for my psyche).  I am gonna try to get a couple of friends together and throw some softballs around, to get my arm back into some sort of shape, so I can at least throw TO the person.  SO I’m totally excited… something NEW, something I have wanted to do for like FOREVER, and again ALL I HAVE TO DO IS SHOW UP – ok I’m doing all this work cuz I don’t want to look STUPID, but I don’t HAVE to.  So much for stability and comfort eh?  One teeny tiny step at a time… Or to quote an all to memorable movie:

Baby Steps, man… Baby Steps.

What made me think this would be easy?

In July 2010, I reached exactly the 1 year mark of being on Medifast. Now the fact that I am still on it and that I have a grand total of pounds lost from day one.  IS A VICTORY!  It is in FACT: progress, IMPROVEMENT, SUCCESS even.  It IS something good in my life.  It IS something I am DOING to change my life.  Yet, I feel like (see there are those feeling peeps that like to take my mind hostage) I have failed.  So many other people have met goal within a year, have kicked the habit, have been SUCCESSFUL.  They have worked into a transition phase, are into the exercise routine of  the program, or just plain have it WORKING for them.  And by July 2010 I did not. 

The STATS for one year after I started are these: 20.40% lost, at least 10 dress sizes (if you count 30/32 down to 18/20 ten sizes), smaller stomach, more energy, and a bounce in my step.  Okay some of those are not stats, but it is part of the transformation.  Now there is this competition at work and since Jan 8, 2010, that I have been participating in.  I have been on the roller coaster of loss gain for MONTHS, including: -10% back up to 1% GAINED.  UGH, UCKY, BLECK!  (Yeah that was July 7, 2010) I mean that is still -17% OVERALL (from July 2010), but I just felt like I had failed. 

Why is failure so easy to apply if others have succeed where I have not?  Why do I look outwardly for my measure of my success.  I mean look at those things ABOVE… if I would just stop COMPARING MYSELF TO THE SUPER STARS, I wouldn’t look so bad.  I would be MAKING progress, doing WELL, be proud, feel accomplished, and hold my head high because of the meer changes I had made to what seemed like a stagnant never going to grow life.  Yet there are rumblings in the back of the head that are contrary to this. 

I think the “You’re just not QUITE good enough” committee has assembled an emergency session.  Well you can’t feel accomplished look at what you didn’t do.  You think your all hot stuff and special, WELL if you were REALLY that way you would have lost ALL the weight as fast as everyone else in those before and after pictures.  If you were really in control you would not have EVER cheated and broken plan.  IF you were any good at this you would have figured out your obstacles and GOTTEN OVER IT ALREADY… Everybody else: doesn’t take this long, have these struggles, break the rules, can’t control their actions, make bad choices EVER… IT’S JUST YOU!!!

Okay BREAK… Ever wanted to just throw giant paint-filled water balloons into the middle of one of those FORMAL Senate style committee meetings?  Wonder who would run for the hills, who would just cry covered in paint, and who would pick up the little one that didn’t break and COME AFTER YOU WITH IT?  Some days these mind committees just need a little chaos to get them break up. 

Then I have to remind myself:  I am tackling the NUMBER ONE, MOST IMPACTING, DEEPEST INGRAINED Weakness I have. 

Side note: I have had a top 5 list of everything that’s wrong with me.  I mean since I went to my first counseling appointment back in 98 ish; this list was constructed.  And managing my weight, food, health, exercise <–this WHOLE BALL has been NUMERO UNO; TOP DOG; FIRST TAMALE; WORST THING IN MY LIFE; I think you’re getting the dramatic emphasis now. 🙂 

So what made me think this would be easy?  Why did I think I could just flip a switch and it would be taken care of and FIXED?  I could “JUST DO IT” and everything would change?  Why does my psyche buy into the lie of instant gratification or QUICK FIX or instant rice?  It’s just as important to me this year as it was last year.  I am just as passionate and dedicated as I was last year.  I am not seeing the INSTANT, easy, SMOOTH, simple results I did in the beginning, but my commitment matters JUST as much to me this year as last year. 

I mean let’s look at a little recent history.  (I KNOW I KNOW – History is not Destiny, but bear with me) It took me almost 2 years to get the Dave Ramsey stuff on track… (finance management was #2 on the list)  I mean 2 years of managing 2 paychecks a month.  Telling myself no, making mistakes, overspending, getting back in control, having my emergency fund act more like General Motors stock price than a nicely growing evergreen.  Its been stressful and emotional and trying and gut WRENCHING to apply those principles AGAIN and AGAIN and AGAIN.  When I fail or CHOOSE POORLY, do it again.  When I mess up the money or pick a bad roommate, DO IT AGAIN.  SO just in dealing with the #2 issue.  WHY OH WHY in Heaven’s name did I think… the food struggle be any easier? Of course there are moments I begin to think… Why are you trying to do both of these at the same time.  SILLY OVERACHIEVER!
So I just need to keep the water balloons of paint handy and keep an ear out for that silly committee’s sessions and BREAK IT UP with a firm healthy Randy Johnson style fast ball to the middle, allow me the deep Satisfaction of that well placed SPLAAT!!!

I can’t do this alone.

A Sanctus Real song has been passing over the air waves these days and it is such a precious sweet tune, but the words are quite the challenge to the ego and status quo of just walking through life.  The message seems be this man’s outcry of his heart as husband, father, and christian to be the leader that God has called him to be.  It sparked me to the typical Awwww feelings and I liked the melody.  It sparked once again that futuristic thought… One day when I’m married with kids I want to have this view-point.  I want to remember this so that I can make this song true.  But then there was a moment today that one line caught my attention, near the end:

 Cuz I can’t do this alone…

An almost gut wrenching feeling of I CAN’T DO THIS ALONE swept over me.  This little statement seemed to cut to several layers of who I am with pain and loss.  I never expected to be 38 and alone.  Now this isn’t a completely depressed isolation that means I am without ANY people contact what so ever, but it is the feeling that I am responsible for me.  No one else.  My success and failures are in my hands; not my parents, not my family, not my children, not a husbands, not my friends, not my boss, not my church, not my counselor, not my co-workers, not my pastor… and there are days when the feeling that there is no one to help me carry this burden through life can been in a word OVERWHELMING. And even that word isn’t STRONG enough. 

This weight of my life on my own shoulders it at times becomes heavy.  Its the picture of the man pushing a boulder up a hill.. but I’m not 6’5″ tall with massive muscles and a clear direction to the finish line.  I look to my left and right for examples and models; but the only thing I see are couples and groups of all ages and size, but TOGETHER they are conquering this feat.  They may fight and squabble, cry, fall down, get lost, slide back, but without exception there is this support shared between them.  And Heaven forbid I look at my reflection… and the comments start: Who do you think you are to do this?  You can’t do what they can do.  How are you suppose to manage all this by yourself?  Its not fair, how can God expect you do this with No examples and no help?  (maybe he wants me to be an example, I whisper to myself) YOU? HA YOU? Look at what you’ve done… Look at all mistakes you’ve made, bad choices, moments of rebellion, dysfunctional relationships, poison spreading where ever you go, do I need to even start on how you LOOK?  You an EXAMPLE… HA! ha ha ha ha You couldn’t possibly be an example to ANYONE….EVER!  Now my simple boulder carrying exercise seems to be an insurmountable challenge, ESPECIALLY ALONE.   

Then this song comes along with not only the words that pierce the heart of pain, but with the next breath is the hope. 

But I still feel alone…
So Father give me the strength to be everything I am called to be
Oh Father show me the way to lead them
Won’t you lead me…

….Lead me, cuz I can’t do this alone… Father lead me… cuz I can’t do this alone. 

After my encounter on Saturday, (see yesterday’s post) I realized that despite everything I have done so far, it does not mean I have to continue alone.  I can ask for his help, I can really honestly have him come along side me and I will not be nor will I feel alone.  There are stories about God taking the burden from people, footsteps in the sand, and him performing miracles of releasing them from their state of misery.  But this is not the message I am hearing nor feeling.  This is telling me he is HERE… with me, HELPING me, advising me, coaching me, talking to me, encouraging me… but the work is mine.  The path is still the same, the challenges do not change, the hurts and wounds remain, and I am still the person he has created me to be… but in this I am NOT ALONE.  I do not need to abandon all the good things about me, I do not need to get married, have 2.5 kids, and be a leader to be everything I am called to be. And in this place where if seems I am the only carrying the burden by myself, it is MY PATH… and as long as I continue to ask him won’t you lead me I will be at peace, on track, satisfied, and special. 

I am fascinated about the timing of certain things.  Even though I am not reading in the Old Testament right now, my mind immediately responded to this passage:

“If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and with your people unless you go with us? What else will distinguish me and your people from all the other people on the face of the earth?” Exodus 33:15-16

EXACTLY!!! Please Lord do not let me go alone.  Please do not ask me to go places and do things without you, cuz I can’t do this alone.