Friday, June 12, 2009

20 and counting ... watching the weight go

Hey! Remember me? I know, it's been a while. But the day after my last blog post, I embarked on a very important, and somewhat time-consuming project -- ME! Even though I began the year talking about battling the bulge. It was March and I hadn't really done a thing about it. While I love Bob on The Biggest Loser, his book and plan just wasn't the thing for me.

Lucky for me, a co-worker and the best friend of my supervisor were doing Weight Watchers and having success with it. Personally, I know that Weight Watchers works -- I've done it twice before and seen great results. Unfortunately, I returned to my poor eating habits and sedentary lifestyle each time and like my girl, Oprah, gained it all back and then some. So, I became a member of Weight Watchers for the third time on March 25 -- and there are 20.2 lbs. less of me around these days.

Each Wednesday, I look forward to stepping on the scale and claiming my "sticker" for the week. I'm just like a pre-schooler about those stickers! I've got three "5" stickers, and I can't wait to get to next Wednesday's meeting to get my fourth star and more importantly the elusive 10 percent keychain that I never quite got to in my first two attempts. (And yes, I weighed that much and still weigh that much! Since it doesn't even take a math whiz to figure that out. LOL)

Since March, I've also been working out consistently for the first time in more than 10 years. From walking in the park, to hitting the elliptical and treadmill, to shaking a tailfeather in Zumba class -- I try to get some kind of cardio in five days a week.

I have to admit that I don't see much of a difference when I look in the mirror. I guess that's because when I look in the mirror I see a thin Keela. It's not until I see a photo of myself that I realize that I've gained 50 pounds in the last 10 years! And I haven't really taken any pictures because I don't want to be disappointed when I still can't tell a difference.

What's most important is that I feel so much better. And my clothes are fitting much better, or falling completely off me.

I'm happy about my success, but I also know that my journey is just beginning. So, I'll continue to work at it. And I'll continue to celebrate my 1 or 2 pound loss each week because I know that those little numbers add up to a lifetime worth of results.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Happy Birthday, John!

Last Tuesday, I celebrated my 39th birthday. People who work, live and Facebook with me, know that I stretched that day into a whole week of celebration. I got gifts, lots of cards and well wishes, and was reminded of just how blessed I was to have such a great bunch of family and friends.

Today, just one week later, I'm reminded once again of how blessed I am. Unfortunately a great tragedy serves as the reminder. While I thought I'd be sending birthday wishes to my high school classmate, John Detouche, today, I've been sending e-mails and posting information on John's funeral, which will be on Thursday.

John was in a fiery car crash on Friday afternoon -- a beautiful, first day of Spring forever marred by this loss.

John was one of the funniest people I have ever met. So today, I'm trying not to mourn his passing, but to celebrate all the great times we shared in middle school, high school and afterwards.

I will forever remember those days riding the bus to football away games. Once, the bus broke down on the way back from some really small town beside a corn field that looked like scenery from Children of the Corn. (Jokes weren't that funny on that night. I wanted to be at home.)

If John wasn't joking with his boys, The Four Horsemen, he was singing or doing some of the best impressions of Riley Jackson, one of our defensive coaches, that's ever been done.

John was also a great dancer, something you wouldn't expect from a big, burly defensive lineman. (The Four Horsemen all thought they could rap, dance and entertain.)

I'll also never forget the pride and joy he felt when his true love was elected Homecoming Queen. We really should have made him a crown, too -- 20 years later he was still reminding Arlette that she won because of him.

After high school we all went our separate ways, but several years later, John and I ended up working at Blue Cross and Blue Shield together. He was still that funny guy, but the jokes were now about his wife and kids. He was all grown up. Around the same time I was obsessed with all things Jackie O and JFK Jr. and I started calling him, "John John" -- he hated it -- which only made me call him that even more.

It's been years since I've seen John, but thanks to the ever popular emergence of social networking sites, we traded e-mails and posts most of last year. I was even "lucky" enough to be one of his responses in his profile on our high school's site -- even if it wasn't true! I acted like I was mad about it, but the truth is, as a writer, I can't get enough of seeing my name in "print" regardless of what it's for.

John leaves behind two sons, his Mom and many family members and friends who I know are still trying to understand his leaving us so suddenly, way too soon. I hope that they see all the wonderful memories and thoughts people are sharing on various websites. I also pray that God brings them comfort and peace during this difficult time.

Today I pulled out the yearbook from our senior year. It was in my computer desk because of planning and stuff I've been doing with our class website since our 20-year reunion last summer. Flipping through the pages, I found these words from John scribbled beside his picture for Most Wittiest ... "I wish you all the luck in the world (because I can't think of another person who needs it more! just kidding!)." Once again he was wrong. I was already the luckiest person in the world because I was blessed to have him as a friend.

Happy Birthday, John John! We love and miss you.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Now a major motion picture

So the Oscars are on tonight. I haven't watched it in years, but I love the fashions and wrongly predicting the winners. As I was looking at the paper this morning with the Oscar ballot, I noticed a book on my shelf, The Reader, now a motion picture that has at least two nominations (Best Picture and Kate Winslet, Best Actress) this year. And it reminded me of my "thing" with books and movies.

First of all, the book is always better than the movie. Actually, I have one exception. I liked Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston in the movie, The Object of My Affection, more than I liked the book. But I digress.

Here's my thing. Because I feel the book is better, I won't watch a movie if I want to read the book. And since I haven't had much free time to read lately, I've collected quite a few books and haven't seen quite a few movies. Here's a list of a few:
  • Cold Mountain
  • Memoirs of a Geisha
  • Chocolat
  • The Perfect Storm
  • Mystic River
  • The DaVinci Code
  • No Country for Old Men
Then there are a few movies that I don't own the books, but I won't watch the movies until I've read them including The Lord of the Rings trilogy.

And there is a movie that I've seen because I couldn't wait, but the book is on the shelf ... The Devil Wears Prada.

And there are books that I've enjoyed that have been made or are being made into movies that I'd like to see ... The Secret Life of Bees, Little Children and coming out this year, Push (I think the movie is called Precious) and The Lovely Bones. I'm happy about these, even though I'd like to re-read Push and The Lovely Bones before the movie. Oh well, the cycle never ends.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

One and ... done

There's a baby boom going on in my little world. In the last few months close friends, relatives, colleagues and coworkers have welcomed little bundles of joy into the world. And a couple more are expecting. I've enjoyed seeing the baby pictures and buying the baby gifts (especially for the little girls).

Couple that with the woman in the news who recently gave birth to the 8 babies and the fact that Preston is two years old and I get the "little brother or sister" question more than ever and I basically have baby on the brain!

So, if you haven't asked and were wondering ... the answer is, "Nope, I'm done." I guess I didn't get the gene that the woman with the 14 kids got -- I've never had the desire to have lots of kids. In fact, for years and years I was convinced that I'd be fine without even one. And then Preston came along. Those first few months were very difficult. I loved Preston more than I ever thought possible, but I also missed my Mom so much that it hurt. My grandmother made plans to come and stay with me and Mark after Preston was born, but she had to go in the hospital just before and her health continued to decline after that. So, most of the time I was alone because Mark was working third shift and quite frankly overwhelmed. I had family members and good friends who were a big help, but I couldn't help but envy girlfriends who had their mothers there for them during such a special time. Now with both my Mom and grandmother gone, I can't imagine having another child.

I also can't imagine having another child because I wouldn't be able to love him or her the way I do Preston. I used to always ask my grandmother how she did that with nine children. And she always said that she loved them all the same. While I would never call her a liar to her face, I didn't buy that for one minute. It was clear to me who her favorites were. She may have loved them all the same, but she sure "liked" them differently. To me, it would be like cheating. Thank goodness other women don't have this flawed way of thinking because there would be a whole bunch of only children in this world.

Then there's the age thing. I will be 39 next month, which means I would have to get started really quickly to have another by age 40. Not that there's anything wrong with that, women do it all the time. But my hair is already graying and I don't want my child to have to tell his friends that I'm his Mom and not his Nana.

I must confess that I do get a tiny little pang every time I see a baby girl. I always thought I'd be buying lots of pink stuff and eventually Mommy and me outfits. And even though I ended up with a baby room with a jungle theme instead of pink and brown ladybugs -- I'm good. One day I'll convince a friend or family member to use that pattern. In the meantime, I'll continue to enjoy the trials and jubilation of raising a little boy and continue to give this response to those who think we should have another, "Why mess with perfection."

Friday, January 30, 2009

It's a Man's World

One of the things I love about my job is communicating to our employees about the various community service activities the company supports. Right now, we happen to be supporting the American Heart Association's annual Heart Walk campaign, just in time for National Wear Red Day which is next Friday, Feb. 6.

Earlier today an employee complained because an announcement about National Wear Red Day failed to mention that heart disease was the number one killer of men, too. It's a national event that I thought was well known and because we've promoted it for the last couple of years, I didn't include information about the origins of the event. (For the record ... that wasn't in last year's announcement either, but I guess that one got by him.)

I usually let things like this go because you can't please everyone all the time, but today I became quite angry about it. And when I'm angry -- I cry. And that messes up my eye makeup, which just makes me even madder! (And I probably wouldn't have cared if I hadn't lost my grandmother to heart disease last summer and this will be the first year I walk in memory of her instead in honor of her.)

Because Mother raised me right, I'm going to give this man the benefit of the doubt. Maybe he's never heard of the Go Red for Women movement. Maybe he's never seen a red dress pin. Maybe he doesn't know that almost 500,000 women died from heart disease last year. Maybe he doesn't know that the symptoms of acute heart attack are slightly different in women. Maybe he doesn't know that women are more likely to have neck and shoulder pain, abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and shortness of breath in addition to chest pain. Or, that silent heart attacks are more common in women and because these symptoms aren't normally associated with heart attacks that women seek medical care later than men. Maybe he doesn't know that because of the Go Red for Women movement, many people are losing the perception that heart disease is a "man's" disease, women are becoming more informed and lives are being saved.

To make a long story short, I revised the announcement to provide background on the Go Red for Women movement. To do that, I had to use the word "women" several more times. (Okay, that was snotty of me, but I was a tad bit emotional.)

I've drawn the conclusion that this man has obviously not gone through the pain of losing a woman he loved to a heart attack or stroke. Perhaps he lost a male loved one and that made him as passionate about my exclusion of men as I was about my inclusion of women.
Whatever the case, I hope he never has to feel the pain of a 10-year-old girl who awakes one Sunday morning to find her Mom unresponsive in the bathtub because of a stroke that caused her to fall unconscious and drown. And I hope he never has to visit the hospital room of the woman who means more to him than life itself knowing that she is drawing her last breaths because congestive heart failure has caused liquid to fill her lungs. I wouldn't wish either of those on my worst enemy.

So on Friday, Feb. 6, I hope that everyone will join me in going red for women, including my fellow complaining coworker.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

It's potty time ... oh, it's potty time!

Okay, I think I've been sailing through this whole Mom thing for the past two years. Preston really hasn't given me more than I can handle or figure out with a phone call or two. And when he did, I could always refer to one of my handy books most of which I purchased before he was born. (A source of laughter for all the women in my family with children, especially my grandmother.)

Last week, Preston's daycare teacher asked me if I had been putting him on the potty. And I told her the truth -- not like I should. It's actually been in the bathroom for a couple of months and he likes to put his blocks in it while I'm running his bath water. Don't worry, he's never actually used the thing so that's not as gross as it sounds.

The truth is. I haven't the faintest idea of "how" to potty train a child, especially one with different parts from me. I've gotten a word of advice here and there ... use the toilet, don't bother with a potty ... don't worry about it until he shows an interest ... let him go to the bathroom with his Dad ...
So, tonight I decided maybe it was time for a book! I went to the Barnes & Noble website and did a search for potty training. In case you're wondering, there are 362 books about potty training on the site. Here are some of my favorites:

I know that he's not going to wake up one day and be out of diapers. I also know that I'm going to have to pray for patience because I'm sure there will be accidents. I'll keep my sanity by repeating over and over again ... this too shall pass. And if all else fails, I'll buy the cat book.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

What's in a name?

This cartoon made me laugh. I also predict that there will be versions of Sasha and Malia, too.

It also made me think about how people get their names.

Everyone has a name. Some names are more original than others. Growing up, I always thought my name was a little unusual. I was in the 8th grade before I met or heard of anyone else with it. (Most kids would find that unbelievable these days, but there was no Internet or Google back then.)

I often wonder how my mother decided to name me Keela. Unfortunately, no one in the family remembers. When I get bored, I make up stories about it. I saw in one baby book that Keela was a form of Keely, which is Irish. Since I was born on St. Patrick's Day, maybe my Mom decided on an Irish name. Too bad we'll never know.

I was always fascinated with my grandmother's story. She had 10 kids and she didn't name any of them. She let neighbors, relatives and eventually the other children name each and every one of them. She said that the only thing that mattered to her was a healthy baby.

I was a little different when it came to naming my child. First of all, I had been dreaming of having a daughter since I found out where babies come from. And I'd been naming her every year since then, including the day I found out we were having a baby. Kendall Grace was going to be her name. We'd have the same initials.

Well, everyone knows how that story ended -- she was a he. And the name game began. First it was Jaden, because that was cute, but how cute would it be on a grown man. Then there was Malcolm. A strong name with some history to it, plus he'd have his father's initials. Then the dreams started. The dreams of my grandmother and grandfather.

You might think that was normal, but I'd never met the man before. Only heard stories and saw him in a picture. He died when I was young. But there was no doubt that it was him in my dreams. And he and my grandmother were happy. He was named after his father. And after that final dream his name was the most beautiful name in the world to me. And no matter what anyone else, including my poor husband, suggested I knew that my son's name would be Preston. And I can't wait to tell him the story of how he got it. As Biggie would say, "It was all a dream ... ."

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

What if ... Special Agent Keela Glover?

I often run by the grocery store to pick up a few things before picking Preston up from daycare. Monday was one of those days. In the store parking lot I passed a female law enforcement officer of some type. She was wearing a sweater, pants and stilettos. I would have taken her for any other kind of worker had it not been for the badge and gun clipped to her waist. I couldn't help thinking what a strange combination that was ... stilettos and a gun. (I guess I'll have to stop talking about the females on the CSI shows who always have on heels since apparently some folks do it in real life.)

That image and the ongoing media coverage for the upcoming inauguration made me remember something that I hadn't thought about in a very long time. 1n 1992, just before my college graduation I attended a job fair. I was stopped by a recruiter for the United States Secret Service. Apparently at that time they were really in need of minority females to join their ranks. (And you might even say a little desperate to be stopping me. Actually, I guess I could have passed for someone who was in good shape back then.)

I was sucked in. Before I knew it, I'd taken the materials and consented to filling out an application, which I did. I was convinced that I was going to join the Secret Service and live a life of adventure and excitement. Well, needless to say once I realized that I would have to learn to shoot a gun and be willing to put my life on the line to protect someone else I withdrew myself from consideration. Call me selfish, but I'm not taking a bullet for my employer. My child and on a good day, my husband, but that's about it.

But what if I had chosen a life with the Secret Service? Right now I'd be Special Agent Keela Glover. With more than 15 years of experience would I have worked my way up to the presidential detail? Would I be learning code names for the Obamas? Talking to Sasha outside a restaurant like the pictured agents? Driving Sasha and Malia to school? Escorting Michelle on speaking engagements?

That would have been cool; however, I doubt it would have happened. I've never seen a female agent in any of the photos of presidents or presidential candidates. But you never know, there's a first time for everything. Right, Barack?

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Yes, Bob. I'm Ready!

It's 2009! Hard to believe another year has come and gone, and once again we are making resolutions to be better, stronger, nicer, leaner ... and all that other stuff.

I've decided that 2009 is going to be a year of prepartion for me. (I have a big milestone birthday next year, and I want to be fabulous!) And I picked up this book in the library last week that is going to help me. It's not the first time I've started the year out with some kind of "diet and exercise" book. But this time, the book includes information about the emotional aspects of weight gain. I know for sure that's something that I need.

Last year my coworkers and I had a couple "Biggest Loser" contests. And the cash pots should have been incentive enough for me to shed the pounds, but after a week or so, I always went back to the unhealthy, comfort foods that made me feel better. I did manage to lose 10 lbs, and could see a difference in my clothing and the way I felt.

Unfortunately, my reaction to my grandmother's sickness and eventual death put an end to my efforts. I gained back the 10 lbs. I lost and 10 more. I've never eaten as much junk or moved around less in my life. I told someone last year that I hadn't really shed any tears, but I have eaten enough to mourn the deaths of a hundred people.

My grandmother wouldn't have wanted that. In fact, she told all of us to take better care of ourselves so that we would have a better chance to fight high blood pressure and other diseases that are more likely to strike overweight, sendentary people.

This book by Bob Harper, a trainer from one of my favorite shows, The Biggest Loser" starts with working through the "why" of eating. I think that's a good place for me to begin. I especially like the fact that Bob admits to being an emotional eater -- even though he's in phenomenal shape. He's just found a way to recognize and overcome the habit of overeating.
I got a gift card from Barnes and Noble for Christmas, so I think I'll buy my own copy of this book. Hopefully by the end of this year, it will be worn and a bit tattered from use. And there will be no question about my readiness!