A Fantastic Finale To An Amazing Week and Pictures From The Entire Day
One of my favorite things about this week has been just getting up early and sitting at the table talking with dad over a cup of coffee. I've looked forward to it nearly everyday, like an excited child at Christmas, I couldn't wait to get out of bed when the alarm would sound. We've been so active this week—but I'll tell you this: If it had only been just these early morning coffee conversations, it still would have been perfect.
Our plan today was pretty packed. It was the last day of dad's visit, and we were going to make it a good one! Dad would join me for my broadcast from the “Splash For CF” event, then the lake, dinner, and we were finishing the day and dad's visit with him watching me perform on stage for the first time ever at tonight's Poncan Opry.
My calorie budget has been absolutely rock solid this week. That's really the easy part for me at this point. My habits and behavior with food has transformed to the point, where, it's nearly effortless 95% of the time. After years of struggling with food addiction, it's a very nice place to be! It's a feeling of peace with food, a comfort level I never knew. I've done exactly what my late Uncle Jimmy told me to do when I was a kid, “Sean, don't live to eat, eat to live.” Of course, just telling me that didn't change my developing habits and dependency on food because I was absolutely hell bent on discovering what that really meant, just like everything else, the hard way. Isn't that the best way to really learn? To experience it and learn from our own mistakes?
We arrived at the event this morning, ready for a good broadcast and a busy day. This was a big event hosted by Quality Water Services, with all funds benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Center in Oklahoma City. Wesley Hawkins, a young man with CF, was there and preparing one of his signature recipes---crab stuffed mushrooms. Mrs. Oklahoma, Alyssa Siler was also in attendance. Her daughter has CF, and that's exactly what motivated her to enter the Mrs. Oklahoma pageant---in hopes of gaining a bigger platform to share awareness and help raise money for CF research. She certainly has accomplished that by winning the pageant---and now she'll compete for the crown of Mrs. America in September, where she'll have an even bigger stage in which to spread the word about CF. You can find out more about her on her very own blog: www.mrsoklahomaamerica2010.blogspot.com and find out more about cystic fibrosis at www.cff.org
Mrs. Oklahoma was taking pictures for a small donation to CF. Mostly little wide eyed girls and boys in awe of the crown---but some adults too, including me. I left the house wearing a perfectly fitting shirt, covered up by the over-shirt, and that's how I took the picture with Alyssa. But it wasn't long after when I finally shed the security blanket, with a little kind shove from a regular reader of this blog.
After the picture and live interview---I made my way to the remote vehicle where my phone alerted me to new e-mail waiting. I had a few minutes, so I checked the e-mail and found this blog comment from a loyal reader named "California Girl"...
Please please please lose the overshirt, please? I'm so proud of all you've accomplished, and you are a HUGE inspiration to me. I love your blog, read it every day, and the pictures are the BEST! But, that overshirt - gah! Wear a loose t-shirt if you must, but ditch the extra shirt on top. It not only hides your impressive accomplishments, it just flat out looks hideous! Please Sean? What do we - your loyal followers - have to do to get you to pitch it? Raise money? Vote? Picket? Looking forward to the tux pictures, but fearful you may be wearing a shirt over it.
At first, I was a little upset, I'll admit it. I told dad right before I posted that edition of the blog, “I'm going to hear about the over-shirt in these pictures, you watch.” And I did. My attitude about the over-shirt was and is fueled by a lifetime of insecurities over my appearance. It's a brutal study in psychology really---but the more I sat and thought about it, the more I realized that my attitude may have been wrong. I often ask, “why does it matter if I wear an over-shirt,” but then I turned it around-- “What would it matter if I didn't?” After all, enough people have told me that it'll make me look smaller to lose it---and I know they're right---but still, letting go of that security blanket, despite my dramatic weight loss, is a very tough thing to do.
This comment from California Girl really struck a nerve---and it wasn't all that bad, it really empowered me. When it was time to go back inside for the broadcast, I decided to just close my eyes and jump. I took off the over-shirt, left it in the vehicle, and walked inside---trying to fight back the constantly playing tape in my head that tells me something isn't right about this. I could do this, I had to at least try...and there I was. I felt exposed. After reviewing a few broadcast interview pictures taken without the over-shirt, I realized that what CA girl, and so many others have told me---starting with Irene so long ago—was true. I did look smaller without. I looked better, neater, and I was showing my true transformation. It wasn't an immediate cure by any stretch of the imagination, but it was progress. It was indeed, very liberating.
We were scheduled until 2pm, but before noon, dad started to feel sick. Since his colon cancer surgery several months ago, he just can't take the heat like before. I contacted a couple of friends and arranged a ride for dad back to the apartment where he could rest, out of the heat. I would finish the broadcast solo, then return to check on him. Dad still wasn't feeling his best by then, so with a big night planned at the Poncan Opry, we decided to go ahead and cancel our lake plans for the afternoon. We chose to rest instead. It really was the best choice today. We were both very tired, having been up at the crack of dawn, and if we were going to have an incredible night---we had to pace ourselves.
After a short refresher nap, I started preparing dad a wonderful dinner. I decided to grill out on the balcony, a couple of sirloin steaks. I asked him how he liked his, and of course—it was just like my preference, medium! I should have known---it's amazing how much we have in common in a very natural, genetic way. Seriously, that's just one thing that was very interesting about this entire week---We discovered that we both have many of the same likes and dislikes---even the same opinions and philosophies on certain issues. It was kind of freaky, but very cool.
We enjoyed dinner and then quickly got ready for the big night. I put on the tuxedo first---and then covered it completely with the same over-sized-frumpy outfit I had on at the last Opry. Stay with me here, there's a good reason.
You see, at the last Opry, one of the band members gave me some friendly jabs about dressing so casual for such a big show. Tonight, when he started doing it again, I started stripping on the stage. I shed the over-clothes, and had one of the Fowler Sisters bring out my tuxedo jacket. Dale, the band member who had given me a hard time before, was completely caught off guard---he was totally shocked, and it was just the reaction I wanted. Only one problem: I couldn't get the jeans completely off from over the heels of my dress shoes. Oops! So there I stood in front of nearly 600 people, in a tuxedo---my jeans stuck around my ankles, and the band launching into an impromptu version of “Pants On The Ground.” The audience lost it in an unexpected tag of laughter that grew as I had to introduce the first special guest singer and then hop off the stage like I was in a potato sack race. I would have fallen on my face otherwise. It was a very fun moment---and since a professional camera crew was there, well---it'll probably be edited and on facebook and You Tube in a matter of hours. Good times, good times!
Near the end of the show, Dave May, the theatre director approached me and said that he would go out after the next performer for some special announcements---and that I was pretty much finished, except for the final curtain call at the very end. I told him that I had planned on recognizing my dad in the audience, but hadn't taken the opportunity yet---he quickly decided to call me out on stage so I could do that very thing. He prefaced my entrance by telling the audience that this was a very special show for me, for a very special reason. I was really wanting to keep it very light, just a nice smile and introduction of my dad, applause---and be done...but when Dave said that, oh my---I froze. It felt like forever...with Dave looking at me, expressing to me with a look: say something, anything! I didn't want to show any emotion at that moment, but it was too late.
I introduced my dad and said that this was the first time he had ever watched me perform on stage---and how much I loved, respected, and admired him. It was really more than I wanted to say at that moment---it just felt like too much, given the fun atmosphere of the Opry, but it did segue perfectly into the final song of the night, which is always a gospel number.
In the lobby, after the show...I was talking to Bucky Fowler and Mrs. Fowler, when a regular listener cut in and said... “If you listen to radio, then you know Sean, everybody knows Sean---He's a little too personal sometimes, shares a little too much, but he's good.” And you know what? That may not be an exact quote, but it's close enough. Her words really bothered me. It was like she was apologizing for an embarrassing relative. I'm smart enough to read her like a book---I understand why she decided to add that criticism to an otherwise perfect evening, and I could have told her exactly what I was thinking when she said what she did---but I didn't, it wasn't the time or place. I just smiled and moved on. What was I thinking? Let me tell you...
I obviously made her feel uncomfortable, I touched a nerve, a hot button with her---The only reason she would say something like she did was if I brought her closer to an issue within herself that she's avoiding. So that was fine...it was her, it wasn't me. She may have also been a reader of this very personal blog. And I know that sometimes, if an account of my experiences along this transformation road hits you square between the eyes---you can either do one of two things. You can let it make you feel very uncomfortable---and then probably never come back and read again—because you're not ready to deal with your own issues—or, you learn from it---allowing it to give you a better understanding of your own path and journey to freedom.
Neither reaction is wrong, because we all have to deal with our own issues in our own time and at our own unique pace. If what I said in recognition of my dad was too much for the moment, and perhaps it was, it wasn't nearly as inappropriate as what this lady said during a light-hearted after show lobby conversation.
After the show, Dad and I returned to the apartment for coffee and conversation. We reflected on the entire week, how wonderful it was and what we had learned from each other. We gained a better understanding of one another---a clarity, that will forever brighten our relationship. It was an amazing thing really and I'll never forget it as long as I live.
I've included a bunch of photos from today. I hope you enjoy them. Oh, and in response to ~lose2live~ in Australia, who wrote:
I will offer $50.00 AU to you Sean for that darn over shirt.... AND some photos of you WITHOUT the over shirt - anyone else want to "bet"? :) (all monies raised going to Sean's favourite charity) Anyone interested ? :)
Thank you my friend! You made me smile big with your kind words and this monetary challenge. You certainly don't have to spend anything, I was planning on posting these pics even before you posted. But if you still would like to donate something, you can go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website at www.cff.org
Thank you for reading. Goodnight and...
With Mrs. Oklahoma Alyssa Siler-You can visit her blog at www.mrsoklahomaamerica2010.blogspot.com
Interviewing Bobby Potter of Quality Water Services---WITHOUT the over-shirt! It does make a huge difference, hmmm.
With Kelly Johnson, owner of Quality Water Services
With Wesley Hawkins. Wesley was diagnosed with CF at 3 years of age. He was recently granted a wish from the Make-A-Wish Foundation. His wish? Meet Rachel Ray in New York City. He did meet her---Her cooking has inspired Wesley to develop his own recipes, I mean—This kid is like a gourmet chef—the crab stuffed mushrooms were absolutely incredible—a recipe unique to his delicious imagination. It was an honor to have Wesley on my radio show recently, and it was wonderful to spend time with him today.
With dad on my balcony---a couple of steaks on the grill, yeah---we were living!
Dad's plate. I enjoyed a similar plate---with 8 ounces of lean sirloin steak, a serving of potatoes, some green beans with melted American (yes—we both love it that way—figures!), and tomato slices. The entire meal was slightly over 500 calories, and absolutely delicious!
This is a tuxedo picture from last year...
And this is tonight! Yeah---the last 80 to 100 pounds lost has made a big difference!
The baggy, familiar, over-sized outfit (with a surprise underneath!)
Viola! Or in Oklahoman: Walla! From the Poncan Opry Stage---Photo credit: Rick Logan