Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Life Takes Ganas

Chills took over my being yesterday when my husband told me that Jaime Escalante passed away.  This man was amazing.  Legendary.  His passion for teaching has inspired me since I first heard of him when American Playhouse aired ‘Stand and Deliver.’ 

The news of his passing immediately took me back to my original passion – teaching.  I remembered the insatiable desire to teach and to change the world.  I didn’t want to be Jaime Escalante.  He was his own person.  My goal to be a teacher began when I was six or seven years old.  I remember my parents telling me I was loud and bossy and would make a good teacher.  For some reason it seemed like a good idea!  The older I got the more I realized what a teaching career meant.  The more I heard, regardless of negativity, the more I wanted it. 

The word “Ganas” was displayed in my locker throughout high school.  I would see that word and remember how dedicated Mr. Escalante was in everything he did.  I like to believe I was too.  People have always accused me of being an all or nothing person.  Black or white without seeing any gray.  It’s probably true.  My adolescence was spent digging in to fulfill my dreams.  Nothing was going to stop me. 

My dreams included far more than teaching.  Ganas got me through it all.  I am still in awe that I am living my dreams today.

I remember college.  It was not easy.  I can now look back on it fondly as one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences of my life.  I remember my education classes and the electricity that would surge through me as I sat in class.  There were so many girls who were in education because it would be an easy career for raising a family.  I was never in it for the ease and convenience.  Every once in a while I feel remorse for becoming a statistic.  The girl who became a teacher, sought a job in Utah where it was oversaturated with girls just like me, got the job, taught a few years, then quit to raise a family.  It was never my goal.  But sometimes you can’t plan life.

My passion for teaching was obviously fueled by Mr. Escalante.  But he taught me so much more.  He taught me that anyone can succeed with the proper motivation and enough hard work.  Intro to Special Ed was a required course for education majors at my school.  When my professor described Special Education as a way to level the playing field I was hooked.  I double majored in Elementary and Special Education as a result.  Jaime Escalante leveled the playing field for his students. 

Jaime Escalante was not afraid to try something different.  He was willing to try things that nobody else was willing to try and to believe in people others had written off.  I did that as much as I could as a teacher.  I continue to live my life that way now.  Dozens of my own personal success stories with students and youth I have worked with at church, come to mind when I think of Mr. Escalante’s legacy. 

Today I watched ‘Stand and Deliver.’ My six year old decided to watch with me.  I tried to explain the story as best I could but I know he is not yet mature enough to understand.  He hated the beginning of the movie and said the kids were mean.  Even though he didn’t fully grasp why they made the choices they did I believe he could see how they changed when Mr. Escalante inspired them to aim higher. 

My son wants to be a teacher.  He knows I used to teach so he may be emulating me.  One day he will get it.  One day he will understand how significant Jaime Escalante’s influence has been in education.  For now he wonders why the good people have to die. 

Jaime Escalante may have reached old age and lost his battle with cancer but his legacy will always live on.  My life has been changed significantly because I watched his story when I was 11.  Who knows how many more lives will be touched after all the lives he has touched already. 

Part of my teaching philosophy is a quote I love.  “You can count the seeds in a single apple but you can never count the apples in a single seed.”  Jaime Escalante is the definition of that quote.  He is amazing.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Exercise in Futility

Overcoming bad habits takes the same steps.

1.  Recognizing there is a problem.
2.  Hoping the problem will go away on its own.
3.  Thinking good thoughts when step #2 doesn’t work.
4.  Work.

Two steps would make more sense but let’s be honest, we all have to throw in the extra two steps in the middle. 

Step #3 has been quite successful for my weight loss in the last couple months but it was time to move on.  I missed Julio, the name I gave my EA Active Wii Fit trainer.  He looks nothing like a Julio but it’s an inside joke so I call him that.  By the middle of the workout I was not calling him Julio anymore!

The workout started out really well.  I had great form and Julio agreed.  I was sweating and breathing hard but I was getting the job done.  Yeah!  I was doing something good for myself and it felt great. 

Julio made me do a set of 16 squats.  Easy.  Then he made me do some lunges.  I hate lunges but I concentrated on my form and did each one as if it were the first.  What’s next Julio?  Fast kick ups. 

Fast kick ups are when you run in place while kicking your legs high enough to kick your own behind.  The person I created to look similar to myself does the same motion around a simulated track.  After a long set of squats followed by a long set of lunges, fast kick ups make me want to die.  There is no regular running.  No resting.  Just fast kick ups for what feels like three miles. 

My lungs were burning.  My legs of steel felt nothing like steel.  More like soupy Jell-O.  I panted for a while after the exercise was over before pushing the button to move onto the next. 

Thankfully it was an arm exercise.  As I finished the last rep, Julio said, “That got your heart rate up!  Nice!”  I wanted to shout back, “Dude!  My heart hasn’t slowed down from the track!”  But my concentration was all on continuing to breathe in and out.

I did another round of squats and two different types of lunges before I got to rest while working on my arms again.  All I could think of was the Friends episode where Rachel tells Joey that her gynecologist tried to kill her.  My trainer, a cartoon, was some sort of hit man in gray sweats and a tight T-shirt.  Nobody’s abs and pecs look like that in a T-shirt!

Somehow the torture ended.  I kept eying my bed and the futon in my room, wondering which one was closer to collapse on while my lungs exploded. 

Instead I grabbed my big, green, rubber fitness ball.  I could only get through two sets of 10 sit ups.  Good heavens!  How bad of shape am I actually in? 

My husband was working from home today, thank goodness.  I told him to get 911 on speed dial.  I was coming down to get some water.  I laid on the couch while my entire body trembled.  The only part of my body that was not emitting audible screams from torn muscles were my eyelashes. 

Happy first day of exercising.  Too bad it was an exercise in futility because I can only imagine the pain if I have to do this again tomorrow!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I won

Success comes in different ways.  It is always accompanied by relief.  Being successful is hard work.  It takes a lot of determination, perseverance  and even more “in your face, I will prove you wrong” attitude. 

I don’t know why I am out to prove the world wrong.  It’s built into who I am.  When I win it’s a glorious thing.  Today I feel like I have won. 

Today I visited my endocrinologist. 

My husband prepped me for the visit by giving me nice words to say to my doctor to get my needs met and my point across.  I have spent my entire life attempting to hold my caustic tongue.  It’s not easy but I’m getting better. 

The visit went well.  Everything was down into a more acceptable range.  My weight, which he never commented on but I don’t care, my blood pressure, my average blood sugar readings, and the amount of insulin I use, which he didn’t comment on that either but I don’t care. 

I won because I brought all of these things down myself.  Well, my new ace inhibiting medication may have helped my blood pressure but it could be argued that my decreased stress level helped that too!  I won because not once did the doctor mention Symlin.  I recently read that diabetics don’t produce two different hormones.  We only take insulin but there is another hormone we are missing and Symlin helps fill that gap.  But that’s not why my doctor wanted me on it.  He thought it would curb my appetite and help me lose weight.  You can read all about that rotten day here

I won because I don’t have to see him next month.  He told me to see him in two months!  This is big.  It means he feels my diabetes management is stable enough to not have to see him next month.  I have been seeing this guy every month for 13 months.  My numbers have been spiraling more and more out of control every time I see him as he jacks up my basal rates which has created many, many issues. 

I won because I took control of my basal rates and insulin to carb ratios and I lost nearly 10 pounds just by lowering my insulin needs!  I have less lows which means I don’t have to eat as much.  I won.  Any way you look at it I won. 

My husband says that my doctor probably thinks he won because he got me mad enough to make these changes.  It’s hard to say if this was all reverse psychology or not.  Either way I don’t care.  He can be happy and I can be happy.  He can sleep at night thinking he won and I will run through the streets, flailing my arms, screaming that I won. 

Regardless of who won, the point is I’m a healthier diabetic. 

It feels good to win.  It feels good to be back on the healthy side of Type 1 diabetes.   It feels insanely good to have lost as much weight as I have.  Only 20 more pounds to go.  That seems so doable since I haven’t even introduced exercise into this weight loss equation yet!  Too many lows.  Now my blood sugar is more stable and I think I’m ready to be told I’m doing awesome by my cartoon Wii Fit trainer again.

It has been sprinkling off and on all morning.  I walked out to my van with the sun shining.  The happy sunshine shone the whole way home enveloping me in warmth, relief and that high that comes from kicking some serious butt!  Skipalong by Lenka was playing on my drive home.  I was happy that I was no longer skipping along quite merrily, reveling in hating what’s going on.  I worked hard to change what was going on and I won. 

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Carpe Diem

At 5:55 am, Love is a Battlefield shattered my dreams with explosive energy not yet appropriate for the hour.  My first thought . . . well my first thought was why does the only radio station I can get to come in clearly play so much Pat Benatar?  She wakes me up quite frequently in the morning.  My next thought was something along the lines of carpe diem.  Seize the day.

This was a day worth seizing. 

I don’t know why.  Maybe I finally realized that it was time I have something real to show for my existence on this planet.  I have been in a sluggish slump for months.  Not really a negative, depressing slump.  Just an addiction to laziness and procrastination. 

Today was the day to change all that.  My day. 

I hit the snooze button several times.  Come on!  I’ve been suffering from a severe addiction to laziness.  You really think that was all going to change at 5:55 am? 

At 6:30 I realized sleep was never going to return, especially in short 10 minute bursts.  I got up with an extra spring in my step.  After all this was my day to shine. 

I gathered all my tools and cleaned my bathroom.  The whole time my emotional high got higher and higher until I was soaring in my own self congratulations.  My bathroom takes forever to clean.  Hard to say why since it contains everything a normal bathroom does only in larger square footage. 

The bathtub sparkles.  The toilet gleams.  The shower is squeaky clean, including the glass door that I don’t clean often enough because it’s a real pain in the neck to achieve that spot free shine.  I usually hope that the Method shower spray will be enough even though the bottom of the door gets gunky after a while.  I even Windexed the closet mirrors as high as my hand could reach while I stood on my tip toes.  They’re really tall doors. 

My cleaning euphoria was cut short for a break.  I had to shower and clean my sweaty self off so I could take my kids to Park Day.  It’s nice to get out and soak up more sunshine while shooting the breeze with friends.  Once we were back home Project Spring Cleaning was back in full swing. 

My bedroom is now surprisingly large again.  Amazing what can happen when one decides to put away all the Disneyland clutter.  I spent several minutes sighing and drinking in the beauty of a tidy, clean, and sparkly master suite.  Whenever I had a chance I stole more admiring and lingering glances at my bedroom.  Wouldn’t my husband be so excited to come home to a haven instead of a hovel after a quick business trip to Chicago? 

In all my tidying and cleaning I carefully took care of everything but the one room that has dampened my mood for days. 

THE KITCHEN.  dun dun dun!

When there was virtually nothing left to do I looked at my frenemy square in the eye and proceeded to tackle it.  Dirt, grease and grime never knew what hit them. 

In the midst of all this I washed my kids’ sheets.  I love that my four year old asked me if they wet the bed and that’s why I was washing their bedding.  No son, just because your sheets get washed every other day does not mean that’s the only time other people’s sheets get washed. 

The afternoon slipped away from me and suddenly it was after 6:00 pm.  My head ached as I forced myself to get up from the evil computer that has a nasty habit of wasting my time even on my carpe diem day.  Once I stood up the heart racing began with the swooning dizziness I now seem to get with every hypoglycemic moment.  Yep, my blood sugar was 49.  Time for dinner after Mama snacks first! 

My two year old was in her booster seat covered in sticky Tootsie pop.  My six year old was in another world with his toys.  I was finally feeling well enough to make some real food for my children when my four year old started yelling down to me from up in his bedroom.  He came down and told me that he sweated while he napped.  Uh huh.  Of course you had to “sweat” today.  Right now while I’m dealing with raw chicken and attempting to suppress my gag reflex over the sight of the raw meat.

Another load of sheets started. 

Dinner turned out great.  It was another one of my standard meals I make when I have to cook.  Last night was traditional breakfast for dinner.  Tonight was Pasta Roni with chicken and some green vegetable.  Broccoli in the case of tonight! 

I managed to get the kids to put away all their toys and I finished vacuuming upstairs.  They’re all in bed with their cute little flushed cheeks and happy smiles.  Tomorrow is Saturday and they get to play with their daddy all day. 

My husband just got home.  I feel like I haven’t seen him in a couple weeks just because I’ve had to share him with other people so much lately.  A business trip right after Disneyland didn’t help.  He brought me a Diet Pepsi from Taco Bell with his dinner/late night snack.  I don’t like Diet Pepsi but the drink is cold, refreshing and sparkly in my mouth.  Kind of like a party of bubbles thanking me for seizing the day.  Yay me. 

Sunday, March 14, 2010

I love this doctor . . .

This is an email that a friend sent me. It brought a smile to my face and I feel less guilty about all the junk food I just consumed on my vacation.

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Q: Doctor, I've heard that cardiovascular exercise can prolong life. Is this true?

A: Heart only good for so many beats, and that it.... Don't waste on exercise. Everything wear out eventually. Speed up heart not make live longer; that like say you can extend life of car by driving faster. Want live longer? Take nap.

Q: Should I cut down on meat and eat more fruits and vegetables?

A: You must grasp logistical efficiencies. What does cow eat? Hay and corn. What are these? Vegetables. So, steak nothing more than efficient mechanism of delivering vegetables to system. Need grain? Eat chicken. Beef also good source of field grass (green leafy vegetable). And pork chop can give 100% recommended daily allowance of vegetable products.

Q: How can I calculate my body/fat ratio?

A: If you have body and you have fat, ratio is one to one. If you have two bodies, ratio is two to one, etc.

Q: What are some of the advantages of participating in a regular exercise program?

A: Cannot think of single one, sorry. My philosophy: No Pain...Good!

Q: Aren't fried foods bad for you?

A: YOU NOT LISTENING!!! ..... Foods fried in vegetable oil. How getting more vegetables be bad for you?

Q: Will sit-ups help prevent me from getting a little soft around the middle?

A: Definitely not! When you exercise muscle, it get bigger. You should only do sit-ups if want bigger stomach.

Q: Is chocolate bad for me?

A: You crazy? HELLO Cocoa beans! Vegetable!!! Cocoa beans best feel-good food around!

Q: Is swimming good for your figure?

A: If swimming good for figure, explain whales to me.

Q: Is getting in-shape important for my lifestyle?

A: Hey! 'Round' is shape!

Well, I hope this has cleared up any misconceptions you may have had about food and diets.

AND.....

For those of you who watch what you eat, here's the final word on nutrition and health. It's a relief to know the truth after all those conflicting nutritional studies:

1. The Japanese eat very little fat

And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

2. The Mexicans eat a lot of fat

And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

3. The Chinese drink very little red wine

And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

4. The Italians drink a lot of red wine

And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

5. The Germans drink a lot of beers and eat lots of sausages and fats

And suffer fewer heart attacks than Americans.

CONCLUSION

Eat and drink what you like. Speaking English is apparently what kills you.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Dare to Believe

Dare to believe that you are a wonderful, unique person.  That it’s more than a right – it’s your duty – to be who you are!  That life is not a problem to solve, but a gift to cherish.
~Author Unknown

Imagine what the world would be like if this mantra was adopted by more people.  Imagine what would happen if people accepted flaws as strengths simply by changing their attitudes.

Imagine the power one would have if they focused all their negative energy into something else.  What could we accomplish if we believed in ourselves and ignored the naysayers? 

The Olympic Games always inspire me.  The Paralympic Games are even more inspiring to me.  The 2002 Winter Olympics were held in Salt Lake City, UT.  I was a fourth grade teacher and our school was given a limited amount of tickets for Olympic and Paralympic events.  Fourth through sixth grade students were chosen by committee based on grades and citizenship.

My favorite memory was the Paralympic Sit Ski at Soldier Hollow in Midway, UT.  Athletes were paralyzed from the waist down or had no legs at all.  They sat in a kind of sled and used their upper body and ski poles to pull themselves along the track.  They were fast too.  It was a humbling event to attend. 

A friend of mine went through brain surgery at the age of 19.  She had to learn how to walk all over again.  She went through physical therapy, speech therapy, occupational therapy, and recreational therapy.  It’s amazing to watch what she can do even though she still has a lot of paralysis on her left side.  When I first met her I had no idea she was partially paralyzed.

These are real examples but the likelihood of most of us dealing with these types of challenges is small.  Another quote I love is by Dennis Waitley:

We’re not all designed to be straight A students, celebrities, world-class athletes or the CEO of a major corporation.  But we are designed to make the most of the skills and abilities we do possess.  Perhaps the most splendid achievement of all is the continuing quest to surpass ourselves. 

What would happen if we did? 

Dare to believe you are worth more than you give yourself credit for.  Dare to believe God created you the way He did for a reason.