Saturday, September 18, 2010

Escalante Slot Canyons

"We'd better find a place to hide our backpacks", my Uncle Franz directed, "because we won't be able to make it through the narrow slot canyons with them on."

We were in the middle of a desert, so moving forward without the food and water in our packs required a little faith. We'd carried our packs as we hiked through red desert sand and across barren slick rock to reach the entrance of Peek-A-Boo Gulch, in southern Utah's Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument.

Uncle Franz grew up around here. He and my Aunt Margaret have spent their adult lives ranching around here. They'd both been through these slot canyons before, so I trusted them and obediently hid my pack in the bushes. We did keep at least one water container to share among ourselves, carried by my strong and agile cousin Jim.

We then turned our attention to climbing up the person-sized steps at the entrance to Peek-A-Boo Gulch.

Monday, September 6, 2010

You Can Choose

It all started on July 4, 2001, when my sister and I were waiting for the Elvis impersonator to appear. As we sat in the baseball stands at Murray Park, waiting for that evening's entertainment, I noticed a beautiful thin woman standing near the dugouts.

"I wish I had a body like hers." I thought to myself. At that time, I wore size 26 clothes, and was more than 100 pounds overweight.

Immediately, I heard a voice in my mind say: "You can choose."

I was startled by it. "Really?" I thought. "I can choose?" I had made several serious attempts to lose weight before, and had failed every time. As a result of those experiences, I had no confidence in my ability to do the difficult things that would be required to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Could I really choose this? I knew I couldn't have a body exactly like hers, but a glimmer of hope started to grow in me that I could make my own body as fit and healthy as possible, given the limitations of my age, my genetics, my busy schedule, and my not-very-strong supply of willpower.

So, even though I wasn't completely convinced that I really did have it within my power to choose this, I started taking actions in the hope that the voice in my head was telling the truth.

Those actions culminated on another July day, 9 years later. That morning I stepped on the scale, like I do every morning, and saw a number that caused me to burst into tears. I had finally reached my weight loss goal. That morning, I weighed 118 pounds less than I had at my highest point.

Now, I'm a size 8, and can even occasionally wear a size 6. I now weigh less than I did during most of my junior high and high school years. (Although, I must admit that I dieted while I was in high school, and once reached this same weight for about 5 seconds back then, before gaining again.) I'm not planning to maintain my weight at the 118 pound loss level--they suggest that you go at least 5 pounds below where you'd like to maintain, which I did. I'm hoping to maintain at 110 pounds lower than my highest point.

Here are a few photos of me when I started, and along the way:

Something larger than myself

In this life we cannot do great things. We can only do small things with great love.
Mother Teresa
We all want our lives to matter, to know that something we said or did made a difference to someone. We all want to be part of something larger than ourselves....something that will go on even after we are gone.

I recently found a small way to make a difference for someone; just thinking about it warms my heart with satisfaction and joy.

I am sponsoring the education of this little girl: Mekides.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Sterling Singers

My new roommate Rebecca keeps a baby grand piano in her living room. She's trained in music performance, and when I'm lucky, I have the privilege of hearing her play and sing.

I don't yet have a video of Rebecca performing, but here's one of Rebecca's niece Nicole, also a very gifted musician. I love Nicole's dramatic flair in this little video clip:

We started taking photos, and Rebecca and Nicole were very fun models, working to perfect their puckers:

Every Sunday evening, they go to a rehearsal of the Sterling Singers, a community choir whose mission is to testify of Jesus Christ through music.

They always come home from the rehearsals happy and joyful, and so one Sunday I tagged along to observe.

I was hoping to be inconspicuous, but that didn't work out so well