Living In A Dream and Meeting Family and Friends--The Bama Trip Pt.1
The beautiful reminders of my smaller size come often and try to convince my brain that I'm no longer a five hundred pound man. Renting a car on Tuesday was one of these incredible NSV's. I wanted something with excellent fuel economy, and that means something little. The little red Chevy Aveo I rented wouldn't have been an option at 505, but now--oh wow, I fit beautifully, perfectly, buckled in and with plenty of room. The contours of the seat fit me...and that's something so wonderful. I never get tired of these big reminders. It's like living in a dream. Let me pinch myself...nope, not a dream. This is my life.
I left Ponca City early Wednesday morning, bound for Alabama and family on my dad's side--many that I've never known, or only met briefly seventeen years ago. This was going to be an amazing trip and I knew it as I pulled out of my apartment drive.
I also planned on meeting some of the wonderful people in the weight loss blogging community. I feel like many of these people are family too. The first stop: Exit 5 on I-40 into Arkansas to meet Shane Griffin. Shane found this blog when AOL featured me on their welcome page in July. Since that time, Shane has blogged, walked, redefined his relationship with all foods, kept the integrity of his "Calorie Bank and Trust" account in tact, and put up his "Steel Curtain Zone," and he's joyfully lost an amazing amount of weight. And it isn't this blog that's done it for him. It's him. He had this desire deep inside, mixed with the fears of what the future might bring or not bring, had he remained morbidly obese. It's all him. But it warms my heart to think that my transformation helped inspire him to bring those feelings to the surface and choose change before change chose him. Shane inspires me. He reminds me of the enthusiasm, joy, and commitment to consistency that has made my road successful. And most wonderful of all: He reminds me what's really important along this road---the people we love. Thank you Shane! And it will be an honor to meet him! Oh yeah--I was too late to meet him Wednesday morning, so I'll have that wonderful opportunity on the way home Sunday evening. You can find Shane's amazing blog at http://www.losingitforthefamily.blogspot.com/
Driving toward Memphis, I started getting really excited. I was planning on meeting Jack at some super secret location. OK, actually it was a Starbucks on Poplar Avenue. You know the Jack I'm talking about, right? Jack Sh*t!! The man, the legend, the weight loss comedy genius with a heart of gold. (You can use that Jack--You're welcome) Jack reminds us to smile more often than not--and if that doesn't make us feel better--his blog often inspires full body laughter. Is that even a term? Full-body laughter. Yes--reading Jack's blog is almost like a workout some days. And just when you think you can't take another FBL (full-body laugh), he hits us with something deep and sincere--reminding us that he's very real, honest, and open to the sometimes emotional ride that is this transformation road.
I got lost in Memphis traffic--it was rush hour when I arrived...bad timing...and once again, I missed the window of opportunity to meet Jack. We agreed to someday meet--perhaps next Spring. He'll be out of town on my drive back. I did take a coffee break at the very Starbucks where Jack waited, until his wife was ready to be picked up from the doctor--and he had to get her home. I was in a hurry to proceed to Alabama anyway...But I felt his presence...He had been here just an hour before. Or maybe that was the presence of Elvis I was feeling. Whatever...it's all good. The day will come when Jack and I get together!! You can read Jack's blog at http://www.jackfit.blogspot.com/
On Saturday morning, I'm meeting Stephen from Birmingham and Tammy from Atlanta! We're having a mini-weight loss blogging conference at the Cracker Barrel off the Fieldstown exit on I-65 in Gardendale--just North of Birmingham. Stephen started at well over six-hundred pounds and is now down over 200!! I'm so excited to meet him!!! And Tammy--she has been reading my blog for over a year and a half and often refers to me as her "weight loss mentor." I'm not sure how comfy I am with that title--but I'm honored she thinks of me like that!!! We really thought the drive would be too long for her, but she's not letting a three hour drive stand in her way! I'm thrilled--and what a wonderful blessing it is to have made such incredible friends! Stephen's blog can be found at http://www.whoatemyblog.com/ and Tammy's blog home is http://www.foodaddict-fromfattofab.blogspot.com/
The main point of this trip to Alabama is to re-connect with loved ones I've only briefly met seventeen years ago and meet some family members I've never known. My grandfather Haynes is turning eighty-eight on the 18th, so we're celebrating early, on Saturday afternoon. A bunch of people will be there--and I'm so excited!! I'll be meeting my flesh and blood.
On Veterans Day, I had the pleasure of spending time with grandpa Haynes and my dad. Grandpa is a World War 2 Vet and my dad is a Vietnam Vet. We visited for a little while--and the whole time, I'm focused on listening and noticing things. Our ears are the same...those eyes, my grandfathers hands are mine too...wow, this is an amazing gift to me. Veterans Day with these two, was such a comforting reminder of how blessed I really am.
I'm staying with my Aunt Beverly. She's been a wonderful host in so many ways! She knows so much of the family history--it's been educational! We enjoyed breakfast at the Waffle House the other morning. I was so impressed with their menu. I had an egg-white veggie omelet with steamed hashbrowns and a dry toast. I saved a bunch of calories because I chose the egg-whites, I chose the steamed potatoes--instead of the oil laden fried, and I chose the toast without butter. And I loved it! I was full, I was happy, and I was thoroughly enjoying the company!! Aunt Beverly is astonished at the fact that I've never had a salad. We've had a wonderful visit so far!!
I met Kayla yesterday! Kayla is the oldest daughter of my late brother Danny. I never had a chance to meet Danny before he tragically and suddenly died at the age of 42 from aortic disection (a result of prolonged untreated high blood pressure). Meeting Kayla and getting to know her is very special to me, like meeting a part of my brother I never knew. Our ears are similar, our eyes...the similarities go on and on...and our personalities are very much alike. It was so incredible to sit across from her and just talk. We really bonded, and honestly--I think we could have talked all day and night, but we had dinner plans at my aunt Gina's house in Huntsville. Aunt Bev and Kayla joined me for our trip up North.
Gina and her husband Shawn (he spells it the right way) prepared a wonderful italian dinner. Spaghetti marinara with beef, garlic toast, salad, and peach cobbler for desert. I enjoyed a serving of most everything, except the salad. Aunt Bev and Gina just can't seem to figure out how I've lost so much weight without ever eating a salad. I think I'm changing the way they look at weight loss! We looked at old pictures, including pictures of Danny and even some of Irene, Amber, and me from eighteen years ago. Those things...oh my, I was so gigantic...and my hair!!!! What was I thinking? ;) It was a wonderful visit and dinner--and this whole trip has just been an awesome blessing in so many wonderful ways.
Saturday Afternoon, we're celebrating Grandpa Haynes 88th birthday. Plenty of family will be there and plenty more pictures are coming soon!!! Thank you for reading! Goodnight and...
With Kayla--Daughter of my late brother Danny.
On the walking/jogging trail in a beautiful Arab, Alabama park...wonderful scenery here!
Waffle House breakfast Thursday morning with Aunt Beverly. Three key strategic calorie value
choices here: No butter on the toast--egg whites for the veggie omelet--and those potato hashbrowns have onions and are steamed, instead of being drenched in oil and fried. Perfect 400 calorie breakfast for me! Loved it!!
With dad over at Grandpa Haynes's house. Grandpa Haynes will be taking pictures on Saturday afternoon!
With Aunt Beverly! Her hospitality has just been over the top wonderful!!
This was my brother Danny Haynes. He was a singer and all around entertainer--this picture is so cool--him on stage, rocking out!!! I LOVE IT!!!!
If you have high blood pressure--please--get it checked, get it under control--because it was aortic disection (same thing that killed John Ritter), caused by prolonged-untreated high blood pressure that killed my brother at 42. It's certainly a reminder to me to always keep it in check.
Kayla Haynes--Danny's daughter. Look at her--so beautiful!! See the ears--she has mine---and the eyes---and the list goes on and on. Very cool!
With my Aunt Gina!
With Kayla at Gina's house---after dinner, looking at pictures and taking some new pics!!
With Tammy!! See the blog address above!
With Stephen!!! See the blog address above!
In that little Chevy Aveo--fitting perfectly, and showing off my "505" tattoo!!!
With Stephen--inside the Cracker Barrel where we all met.
Breakfast with Stephen and Tammy---An egg white veggie omelet with American cheese, dry whole wheat toast, orange slices, and diced pineapple--very nice!!