Peace Challenge: The Woman in the Mirror

Months  ago our friend Kozo challenged us to post about our truest self, our grandest self, or about the self we would like to be.  Who was the person each of us faced in the mirror?  What did that reflection say to you?

Even though I didn’t write a post at that time, the topic has always stayed with me.

I decided it was finally time to post my thoughts as I reach certain milestones and close out (or perhaps start?) some chapters in my life.

Anyone who’s known me for at least a couple of years can visibly see that I’ve physically changed in many ways.  People who haven’t seen me in a while may walk right by me because they don’t recognize me.

That said, the deepest parts of me haven’t really changed.

For me, that’s the interesting part.

Here are photos of Cathy taken on the same date for the 2012, 2013, and, 2014.  She's been through substantial physical changes.  She also had plenty of help to be able to achieve this.  Oh, and yes, she plans on maintaining that support in order to continue her journey!

Here are photos of Cathy taken on the same date for the 2012, 2013, and, 2014. She’s been through substantial physical changes. She also had plenty of help to be able to achieve this. Oh, and yes, she plans on maintaining that support in order to continue her journey!

The way I see it, because my health and stamina have improved substantially, I’ve finally been able to achieve milestones that previously were out of my reach.

Being healthier and stronger has allowed “dormant” parts of me to start coming forward.

Parts of me that are creative….

Cathy finally finished a comfy shawl that she crocheted over a long period of time.  She'd do just a little bit at a time until it was complete!  Good things may not happen overnight!  Sometimes good things come one step at a time!

Cathy finally finished a comfy shawl that she crocheted over a long period of time. She’d do just a little bit at a time until it was complete! Good things may not happen overnight! Sometimes good things come one step at a time!

Fun loving…

Cathy reacts to a love note that her hubby put in her lunch!  Sometimes the best parts of your day are unexpected surprises!  Enjoy those moments, and, be sure to pass the love forward!

Cathy reacts to a love note that her hubby put in her lunch! Sometimes the best parts of your day are unexpected surprises! Enjoy those moments, and, be sure to pass the love forward!

Vibrant…

Cathy takes a private moment to play her guitar and sing!  This is a part of her that resonates very deep within her.  When  you listen closely you'll discover a part of her that often isn't seen or heard.

Cathy takes a private moment to play her guitar and sing! This is a part of her that resonates very deep within her. When you listen closely you’ll discover a part of her that often isn’t seen or heard.

Parts of me that are becoming stronger…

Stronger in body…

As you know from her story, Cathy's been working with a personal trainer to help her achieve numerous fitness goals. She's asked for more challenges, and she hasn't been disappointed! She's now able to reach for, and, achieve milestones that two years ago were not in her line of sight!

As you know from her story, Cathy’s been working with a personal trainer to help her achieve numerous fitness goals. She’s asked for more challenges, and she hasn’t been disappointed! She’s now able to reach for, and, achieve milestones that two years ago were not in her line of sight!

Stronger in mind…

Sometimes when the going gets tough, it's important to take a pause, and, just breathe.  Cathy take a moment to be still during a particularly hectic day...

Sometimes when the going gets tough, it’s important to take a pause, and, just breathe. Cathy take a moment to be still during a particularly hectic day…

Stronger in soul and spirit…

Cathy, her daughter, and husband share a family moment in church.

Cathy, her daughter, and husband share a family moment in church.

Parts of me that are able to dream and enjoy a sense of wonder.

Cathy takes a second to just dream, to be grateful, and, to wonder about all that's happened.  In the midst of a hectic world, it's important to take the time to do this.

Cathy takes a second to just dream, to be grateful, and, to wonder about all that’s happened. In the midst of a hectic world, it’s important to take the time to do this.

It’s  been hard work, but it’s been worth it.  I can’t express that any other way!

My blog byline is still true.

Yes, I’m still sipping tea…

Cathy's favorite teapot.  Wonderful aromatic beverages are brewed there!

Cathy’s favorite teapot. Wonderful aromatic beverages are brewed there!

…and I am still learning from the past, looking forward to the future, and learning to be still in every day life.

Cathy balances in "star pose." The photo is significant not only to represent a sense of balance, but to show that Cathy is able, after many months of work, to balance for short periods of time on her right leg which was injured quite some time ago!

Cathy balances in “star pose.” The photo is significant not only to represent a sense of balance, but to show that Cathy is able, after many months of work, to balance for short periods of time on her right leg which was injured quite some time ago!

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Posted in 2014, B4Peace, Uncategorized

Signs

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Signs.

A few years ago I made a visit to my folks house with the intent of scanning family photos.

I came across a unique piece of family memorabilia.

When I asked my mother about it I was astounded to learn what it was.

There, in an envelope was a little piece of cloth tape with writing on it.

How little?

About one-inch square (two and a half centimeters).

There was a lot of information written on its tiny surface!

A little sign with large significance to Cathy's family!

A little sign with large significance to Cathy’s family!

My mother explained at the time when she was born, the nursery staff would write pertinent information on a little piece of cloth tape, then they’d stick the tape on the babies’ backs in order to identify them!

Apparently all the babies had these little signs on them to show who they were, and to whom they belonged!

There were no hospital bracelets, just the little pieces of tape!

Here is my mother’s information:

#121- 685

Lopez, Female

Wt. 6# 6oz.

Mother, Carmen

#121- 681

Born, 1:02 p. m.

8-31-30

A one-of-a kind miniature sign with special significance for my family!

Cathy's grandmother, Carmen, and her mom, Mary, early 1930's.

Cathy’s grandmother, Carmen, and her mom, Mary, early 1930’s.

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Posted in 2014, Family history

Nighttime

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Nighttime.

Here is a photo I snapped in the wee morning hours from the backseat of an airport shuttle.

I had traveled to Des Moines, Iowa on a business during the winter of 2012.

I admit it.

I’m a hot weather gal.  I’ve only seen snow fall a few times in my life.

The previous evening I happened to be in my hotel room, watching the snow fall.

I found it to be very calming.

Very early the next morning I took a shuttle to the airport.   This gave me the opportunity to simply sit back and enjoy the darkness and my surroundings.

The Des Moines River was frozen.  Trees with barren branches lined the bank.  The moon was shining in the distance.

The windows inside the airport shuttle framed the scene.

It was a quite peaceful.

While I was looking forward to warmer weather back home, I was also appreciative to experience a small glimpse of this icy winter at night.

Trees line the frozen Des Moines River during the Winter of 2012.

Trees line the frozen Des Moines River during the Winter of 2012.

 

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Posted in 2014

Endurance–“Sugar Beets”

 

The Weekly Photo Challenge is Endurance.

I went to the family archives to find the photo my father labeled “sugar Beets.”

This photo from the mid-1920’s helps me to understand this part of my family’s history.

Cathy's grandparents, Josefina and Jose , and her uncle,. Lupe sit atop a pile of sugar beets.  Photo is from the mid-1920's.

Cathy’s grandparents, Josefina and Jose , and her uncle, Lupe sit atop a pile of sugar beets. Photo is from the mid-1920’s.

When I asked my father about this photo he explained his parents, Jose and Josefina are sitting on a pile of sugar beets because they worked in the fields to harvest the crop.  They might be waiting for their day’s pay.  My Uncle Lupe is with them.

My grandmother also happens to be pregnant with my aunt at the time this photo was taken!

In order to provide for their family, my grandparents migrated from region to region following the harvests for various crops.

Because of their constant moving, my aunts and uncles were all born in different areas of the United States such as Texas, Colorado and New Mexico.  The family finally settled in California.

I look at this picture and have a hard time imagining what it must have been like to have a toddler, be expecting another child, and at the same time work in a field harvesting crops.

In addition, my grandfather had limitations.  A few years earlier he had lost a leg in an accident.  Despite the challenge of having a wooden leg he worked in the fields alongside my grandmother.

I looked at the sugar beets – rooted in the ground then uprooted by my grandparents.

Endurance…my grandparents didn’t always have the opportunities to be rooted in one location.  They were constantly moving, laboring in the fields, their little ones in tow.

Still, they built their family one journey at a time.

They gave me my roots.

Endurance, indeed.

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Posted in 2014

Raising Compassionate Children

Kozo has once again challenged us with a timely Bloggers for Peace topic.

He focused his post on raising compassionate boys, and has started an video series about this topic.

As I grew up in a large family, I decided to expand this to thoughts on raising compassionate children.

I thought about the generations of my family.

Generations of Cathy's family.  Her father, his parents, and, siblings.

Generations of Cathy’s family. Her father (third from the right), his parents, and, siblings.

Cathy (middle left), most of her siblings, and her parents.

Cathy (middle left), most of her siblings, and her parents.

Despite all the ups and downs that my family has faced, there is a consistent display of humor,  strength of character, compassion, faith, and love.

Cathy's  sister Rose, brother Louie, and Louie's son Jason share a light moment at a family gathering.

Cathy’s sister Rose, brother Louie, and Louie’s son Jason share a light moment at a family gathering.

When I took a step back to consider this, I realized there were a few recurring themes.

Each of these themes could be a post on its own, so I’ll just present them, and let you consider what each of these may mean to you.

Love begins with each of us.

Cathy's brother David, and his son, Matthew.

Cathy’s brother David, and his son, Matthew.

If you want children to be compassionate and loving, then you must show them the way.

Annie is showered with kisses from Aunt Sheila and cousin Jim.

Annie is showered with kisses from Aunt Sheila and cousin Jim.

Children will repeat behavior that you and others model.  (What is it that you are modeling for your children?)

Cousins Mia and Elijah enjoy a little critter that was found outside the pool.

Cousins Mia and Elijah enjoy a little critter that was found outside the pool.

Teach kindness and gentleness. (This does not mean that you are a pushover.)

Joe and Linda share a quiet moment.

Joe and Linda share a quiet moment.

Teach tolerance.  (It’s okay to disagree with someone.)

Cousins Victor, Phil, Matthew, Eric and Joe play for high stakes!

Cousins Victor, Phil, Matthew, Eric and Joe play for high stakes!

We must protect those who are vulnerable.

Al keeps Mija calm on the way to hospital tests.

Al keeps Mija calm on the way to hospital tests.

Dad's hand is strong and reassuring.

Dad’s hand is strong and reassuring.

We must love, respect and treasure those who have so much to teach us.

Annie and her great-grandmother Josie.

Annie and her great-grandmother Josie.

Bob and great-grandmother Carmen.

Bob and great-grandmother Carmen.

We must continue to teach these lessons to those who come after us.

New generations of Cathy's family.

New generations of Cathy’s family.

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Here are related B4Peace articles:

Finding Beauty Amongst the Trash

Happy Birthday Little Dinosaur

Kozo and Cheri asks that you

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Posted in B4Peace, Spirituality

Photo Challenge – Silhouette

The topic for the Daily Photo Challenge is Silhouette!

In May of this year I was heading home from a family visit in California.

I arrived in the Phoenix Airport for a layover and was focused on  getting to the next  terminal.

Looking around, I realized the inner corridor was lined with black glass that acted like a mirror, reflecting the hills and all the airport traffic.

Rather than continuing on my way (aren’t we always feeling rushed in airports?) I stopped to enjoy the view, then took a selfie while facing the black glass.

I was happily surprised when I looked at the photo and saw a silhouette rather than a reflection!

The Phoenix Airport is a thoroughfare for me.  Over the years I’ve taken a number of landscape photos from the airport the years as the arid landscape can be breathtaking.

This photo is unique because the landscape is clear even though I have my back to it!

Landscape surrounding the Phoenix Airport, as reflected against black glass inside the airport terminal.

Landscape surrounding the Phoenix Airport, as reflected against black glass inside the airport terminal.

Read more ›

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Posted in postaday

“When the going gets tough, stop and think about everything you’ve already accomplished.”

Stairs used to be a major challenge for Cathy.

Stairs used to be a major challenge for Cathy.

It’s not easy to express all that’s happened since the end of 2012 when I decided to join a gym.

My health was changing.  I didn’t like how I felt.

The results of my annual blood work were cause for concern.  If I didn’t make some changes I was likely to develop diseases that are prevalent in my family.

It wasn’t a pleasant prospect.

I was apprehensive, nervous, perhaps, even fearful.  I had chronic issues with my right leg and hip due to old injuries.  I was often in pain. I walked with a noticeable limp.

When I tried to be active the old injuries would flare.

It was a frustrating, vicious cycle of weight loss and gain.

Goggles - One of Cathy's favorite pieces of exercise equipment!

Goggles – One of Cathy’s favorite pieces of exercise equipment!

The gym near my house had a pool…and I loved to swim.

It was time to join!

Swimming became my ticket back to activity. It was refreshing to once again move through the water.

 

Meet Dan, the trainer who helped Cathy meet and exceed her health and fitness goals!

Meet Dan, the trainer who helped Cathy meet and exceed her health and fitness goals!

Shortly after I joined the gym, I also knew I’d need quite a bit of guidance.

I made the decision to work with a trainer.

I had no idea how pivotal that decision would turn out to be!

 

I met Dan at the end of January 2013.In the time I’ve worked with Dan I came to appreciate a number of things about him.

First and foremost, he listened to me. He listened to my concerns and understood my goals to improve my blood work, and, gain strength in my hip and leg.  He encouraged and challenged me, celebrated victories with me, made sure I was safe, and, always treated me with respect.

I couldn’t have asked for anyone better.

I also continued to swim.  After a few months I started attending yoga classes, and classes with yoga, tai chi and pilates.  I was delighted to move my body so freely once again since I used to practice yoga before I sustained all my injuries.

My husband and I also worked on meal planning.  We still continue to do this.

By August 2013 I had lost 50 pounds!  My blood work was improving.  My level of pain was decreasing.

This is a pair of pants Cathy wore at the end of 2012. It's quite a reminder of all that's occurred and what she achieved!

This is a pair of pants Cathy wore at the end of 2012. It’s quite a reminder of all that’s occurred and what she achieved!

I was determined and motivated to keep going!

All the while Dan continued to challenge me.

Fast forward to June 2014.

I have discontinued taking several medications.

Soon, my doctor will be evaluating me to see if I can let go of the last one!

I’ve lost 82 pounds, since I started this journey, and “lots” of inches. This translates to seven clothing sizes!

Sometimes I still have to process all the changes that have happened.

Cathy's two walking partners, Al and Mija!

Cathy’s two walking partners, Al and Mija!

I am stronger and more flexible than I’ve been in a very long time.

I now enjoy walks with my family and long walks on my own.

The limp I used to have is very rarely seen any more. The pain in my leg is finally manageable.

I’m starting to run!

People who I’ve known for years have walked right by me because they no longer recognize me!

I am deeply humbled that several women decided to make changes in their lives because they’ve seen all I’ve endured and accomplished.

I’ve always been honest with them.

It’s hard work.  There’s no magic solution.

I tell them to discuss any possible health concerns with a doctor.

Know what you’re battling so that you can face the challenge realistically.

"When the going gets tough, stop and think about everything you've already accomplished." - Cathy - 2013

“When the going gets tough, stop and think about everything you’ve already accomplished.” – Cathy – 2013

Get educated…and don’t be afraid to enlist the help of qualified professionals to help you meet and exceed your goals.

Know that you’ll have ups and downs.  There’s nothing wrong with that, and there’s nothing wrong with you if this happens!

There will be well-meaning people who will try to get you side-tracked – “Are you sure you don’t want to eat that?”

There will be people who are jealous and mean-spirited -
“Why are you still doing that?  Aren’t you done yet?”

Ignore them.

Seriously. I’ll repeat that.  Ignore them.

This is your journey, your story, your health, your well-being, your life.

Oh, and I will never be “done.”

There will always be a new challenges, new goals, and new achievements.

Remember, always remember through the ups and downs (and you will experience them) that you are important.

Cathy and Dan take a pause before a workout to take this photo, and the photos with her old pair of pants!

Cathy and Dan take a pause before a workout to take this photo, and the photos with her old pair of pants!

Keep going forward, even if it feels like you’ve taken a step back. It’s okay to be frustrated once in a while.

Through it all, have fun!

…and yes, Dan still raises the bar by continuing to challenge and encourage me!

I can’t say thank-you enough for all he’s done to help me stay strong and keep going!

He says 90% of the accomplishment is mine.  I don’t know about that.

I am astounded, grateful and humbled every day at what I am able to do. That is not an exaggeration.

I’ve reclaimed a part of my life I thought was lost,  a part of me that was active, energetic, and healthy.

So what’s next?

It’s time for me to keep going forward! There’s so much more to do – at the gym and elsewhere!

It’s time for me to continue my personal journey to be the best that I can be.

"Be your best everyone!  It's worth the work that it takes to achieve  your goals!"  Best wishes, Cathy

“Be your best everyone! It’s worth the work that it takes to achieve your goals!”        Best wishes, Cathy

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Posted in 2014, Uncategorized

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