This past week has been one of thrilling firsts and heart-breaking finals for me. I’ve been up and down and back up again then down. It’s a bit like a virtual roller coaster in my life right now.
In the firsts column, I went downhill skiing for the first time! Yes, you read that right — for the first time ever, as in my entire life. You see, with this new body of mine, I have spent the past year exploring new pursuits, discovering what I enjoy and what I might be good at. After all, if I can lose 125 pounds, I can do anything!
So yes, I went skiing for the first time. My little brother, an accomplished skier, was kind enough to take me up to the mountain on a day that called for blizzard conditions and did not disappoint. For the record, learning to ski in whiteout conditions was probably not the best decision I ever made. But, I took a class with my beautiful daughter, who was much more of a natural than I, and I had so much fun. I still need a lot of practice and a few more lessons, but I can’t wait to give it another whirl. I discovered that skiing is a lot harder than it looks, and that I need to make more of an investment in my outerwear — unfortunately I’ve been sick since my little adventure. But a new coat notwithstanding, I will be back on the mountain soon.
And in the finals column, on a much more somber note, I said a final farewell to a very dear lady this past week. This is a woman that I only knew a scant 5 months yet the kindness, love, and joy that radiated from her very being so impressed me that I feel the need to share her memory with you. Hers is a loss that stunned everyone with its suddenness and leaves us all desperately searching for some logic in her premature departure from this world.
I met Jo my second day on the job and she immediately embraced me into her not so exclusive club. When she would see me hanging back in a meeting or conversation, she would thoughtfully draw me out, always making sure I felt included. One day after a meeting in which I displayed a particular passion for a topic at hand, just the two of us hung back in the room after the others left. She looked at me with her big dark eyes, flashed that trademark smile of hers, and drawing my hand into hers she said, in that slow, deliberate cadence of hers, “Colleen, I’m so glad you’re here. I just love you. I love you!”
I was caught a little off-guard by this. No one at work had ever proclaimed their love for me before! But from Jo, it felt sincere, heart-felt, and completely natural. When she said that, I knew she truly meant it. Since her death, I have learned that I was not alone in hearing this phrase from Jo, she shared this sentiment with many, many people. “I just love you. I love you!”
Yet knowing this doesn’t cheapen the sentiment for me. I am absolutely certain that she truly did love each and every one of us. And I think that is what impressed me the most, and what I will always remember, about Jo: her endless optimism and fearless love of everyone around her.
I would estimate that around 800 people attended her funeral this past week, and it made me think that I don’t even know 800 people let alone made such an impact on so many people. And so in honor of this brilliant light in the world that has been snuffed out way too soon, my resolution this year is to be more outgoing and practice that fearless love that Jo embodied so well.
I love you too Jo.
The following is attributed to Mother Theresa and appeared in the program at Jo’s service. It’s so eloquent, and so represents the person she was that I have to share:
People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway.
If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway.
If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway.
If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway.
What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway.
If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway.
The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway.
Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway.
In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
Recipe of the Week:
Whole Wheat Penne with Roasted Tomatoes and Spicy Italian Chicken Sausage
2 links spicy Italian chicken sausage
2 lbs. Roma tomatoes, wedged
4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tbsp dried basil
1/2 tsp coarse sea salt
1/8 tsp red chili pepper flakes
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 cup dry red wine
6 oz. whole wheat penne pasta
4 tbsp grated parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 450. Put the sausage links in a baking dish then cover with the tomatoes, garlic, basil, salt, and pepper flakes. Drizzle the olive oil and wine over the tomatoes then bake for 40 minutes uncovered. Remove the sausage links and chop them up then return them to the tomato mixture.
Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with the cooked tomatoes and sausage. Serve with each serving topped with 1 tbsp of the parmesan cheese.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutritional Information: Calories 331.3, Total Fat 10.5g, Cholesterol 31.5mg, Sodium 630.5mg, Total Carbs 43.7g, Dietary Fiber 7.1g, Protein 17.3g
And finally, my tip of the week…
Relax and Recover
This is about the time in January when those well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions start falling off the charts. You give into temptation at the office or you miss a day at the gym and suddenly your new found healthy lifestyle is out the window. I say relax! Fuhgeddaboutit!
So what if you have a piece of candy from the office candy bowl? So what if you eat the whole bowl? Okay, it’s not something I would go bragging about to my girlfriends, but just because I make one poor choice doesn’t mean that I should completely abandon my goals. No one is perfect, everyone makes bad choices, including yours truly. And yet, so often once our “diet” goes off the rails we just completely give up and go back to all of our old habits. I know that I’ve been guilty of this many times in the past. I give into temptation and I tell myself, I’ll be good tomorrow. Or next week. Or next month. Or next year. You get the picture.
The reality is that every moment is an opportunity. You don’t need to wait until tomorrow, the very next food choice you make is an opportunity for a healthy one. Remember, you’re not running a race, life is one long journey. Likewise, this isn’t a diet, this is a healthy lifestyle which means that you are allowed to indulge once a while. Savor those moments, use them sparingly, make them count, and use the rest of your choices wisely.