Arriving home from my class reunion in the middle of the night didn't leave me much energy to write about too much before collapsing in bed. It was a short post for Saturday. Today was eventful too. My youngest daughter turned twenty-one years old today! We celebrated with a birthday lunch at one of her favorite restaurants. First, let's explore a recap of my class reunion experience.
Prior to May 15th, 2014, if you had asked me, "Are you going to the Class of '89 SHS 25th reunion in July?" I would have given a quick, "probably not, but I'll be at the 30th reunion." Never before has an epiphany rocked me to my core like it did on May 15th. I can't shake its effects and I don't want to. To be gifted a powerful mind expanding epiphany focused on the very thing I've allowed to limit me my entire life, was easily one of the greatest gifts I've received along this fantastic road of life. Saying, "my worth and identity does not depend on the shape of my face, the size of my pants or the number on a scale," is something, if not explored, could be easily said but still not applied. Truly believing it, embracing--and wrapping my mind around the epitome of self-love, cemented something inside me. Still, like most everything, it isn't perfect. But it's powerful enough, that instead of avoiding the reunion, I wouldn't have missed it for the world. Flipping a lifetime perspective upside down doesn't happen without a little spillage of the marinade that seasoned me, as I discovered last night.
I turned up the radio super loud as I drove the forty-two miles to my destination. I was listening to the "Big 80's Weekend" on Tulsa'a Mix 96. The 80's groove was taking me back in time and I knew, in less than an hour I would be experiencing real life encounters with people who were back there with me. I was fine right up until I pulled into the parking lot, mere steps from people I haven't seen in what felt like forever. I turned the radio down, scanned the parking lot, thought to myself: this is it and then I froze.
I sat in the car staring blankly ahead for what must have been five minutes. What was I waiting for? Is it too late to back out now? It took exchanging some supportive text messages with a friend and some serious self-talk to get me out of the car. What was it? Body image/weight issues again? No, not at all, really.
To better understand my mentality you must know the rest of the story. I never walked across the stage with any of these people. I trashed my high school academic career. I'm self-educated, blessed with a divine gift of natural intelligence I've had my entire life. I've lived my life choosing and not choosing things on which to apply myself. School never received my focus, except when Mr. West challenged me to apply myself during an upcoming nine week grading period. Mr. West offered: "I know you're smarter than the F you're making in my class. You're not trying. What would happen if you did?" I immediately started acing everything in his class and with extra credit, I turned what was once a low F, into an A+ in excess of 100%. The following nine week grading period, I went back to not caring.
I enjoy taking things that seem negative and finding the positive, so here's this: I likely wouldn't be as studious along this road; as willing to dive into the deep dynamics of every facet affecting this journey, if not for carrying around a giant inferiority complex surrounding my academic career. When I go deeper in my introspective study and I unlock epiphanies stored like treasure, it serves as another confirmation of my intelligence.
Despite my reluctance and mental noise outside the venue, I truly wanted to see these people tonight. And they wanted to see me. I was invited and the fact that I purposely obliterated my academic career didn't matter one iota to these classmates. From their perspective, I'm a wonderful success from the class of '89. And you know what, they're right. I am.
I chose to hold my head high and walk into the reunion with nothing but pure confidence. The confidence and peace in self I projected came back to me in the form of the warmest receptions from my fellow classmates. That's the thing about what we choose to carry and project: It comes back to us. And if we're not aware of this dynamic, we can easily mistake where we should place the blame when we suddenly feel less than good enough. How we feel about ourselves has an energy all its own. If we wear it like a force field surrounding us, then everything we communicate and everything others communicate toward us is filtered through it, altering our perception in either direction, good or bad. In understanding this, assumptions and worry about what others think of us or what they might think of us, are revealed as the products of our fear and imagination and in effect, renders them powerless.
I was free to enjoy just being myself. I was fascinated by my classmates and their experiences. I asked questions about their life and I listened and appreciated what they had to say. It was beautiful. We recalled stories, laughed and remembered the good times. Some of the conversations were so good, we had to "break" in order to make sure we made the rounds to everyone else.
In the opening paragraph of chapter three in my book, I wrote about the guys with the cool names in our school: Rob Lorenzo, Mike Van Pelt and Chris Holt. Movie star names, I tell ya! They were all there and what a treat it was to converse with them once again.
Many of my former classmates commented on my writings and how much they enjoyed occasionally peeking into my world via Facebook and this blog. It felt amazing to me. I was overwhelmed, wrapped in their sincere words and appreciation for what I do. I had a wonderful conversation with Lydia Morton and Sheryl Arthur, (whom I had a HUGE crush on in Junior High--I didn't mention that. :) And I enjoyed a profound discussion with Steve Troxel, whom I believe is one of the most talented, funny and artistic people I've ever known. I recalled how he would sit in drama class and draw the most amazing caricatures of the people around him. I told him how much his artistic ability fascinated me and how I didn't know how he did it. My brain doesn't work that way, it's incomprehensible. His reply gave me some perspective. He told me the same thing about what I do, saying: "I couldn't do what you did in your stand-up comedy or what you do on the radio. I would immediately freeze up. No way I could do what you do." The room was ripe with mutual love and respect.
Then, out of nowhere came Martha. My conversation with Martha was likely the highlight of my evening. You never know of the potential impact you can have on someone, simply by being honest and real in what you share, unless they come right up to you at your twenty-fifth high school reunion and tell you. Martha opened the conversation with "I just wanted to tell you how much your blog has meant to me." I remember that first line enough to quote her, but I'll need to paraphrase most of the rest. She related how when she discovered my blog it was at one of the lowest points in her life. She thanked me for having an impact on her in what she described as one of the "pivotal moments" in her life. What?? Are you talking to me? I hadn't a clue. I asked, "have we ever communicated via blog comments, email or facebook messages?" She said no. She was just quietly reading, relating and applying some of the explorations into her own life and wanted to express what a difference it had made for her. I was so touched, it took everything in me to keep from melting down into a pile of tears right there on the spot. Instead I held it together, simply hugged her and thanked her for the kind words and for sharing with me. As if that wasn't enough, before the night ended, she expressed how she felt like I was building and leaving a legacy that will live on forever, much like fellow classmate, Dr. Bob Wetteman, a professor at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. I thanked her, then became immediately speechless.
I walked out of the reunion with a euphoric feeling created by nearly six hours of connecting with people I didn't realize I cared so much about, but I do. I wrapped the night by having a brief conversation with Chris Holt. He was the star quarterback and one of the most popular, if not THE most popular guy in school. Back then, he was everything I wished I could be. I wanted to be just like him. He was smart, funny, athletic and never at a loss for attention from the girls. In our moments tonight, he, without much effort it seemed, revealed a most loving and compassionate humanness rarely experienced these days. His calm spirituality came through without saying a word in that direction. He was at peace and it showed as he, his wife and I stood outside after midnight on Main Street, in the cool night air of our hometown. He expressed how happy he was to see me, said "I love you brother" and gave me a hug. In that moment, I realized I was just like him after all.
My youngest daughter Courtney turned twenty-one years old today. She has blossomed into one of the most attentive and caring moms I've ever seen. I beam with pride when I see her and my grandson together. We all got together at one of her favorite restaurants for a birthday lunch. The special today was their big lunch buffet complete with fried chicken, catfish, meatloaf, fried okra, mashed potatoes, gravy and more. I didn't even give it a second thought or try to rationalize a decision in that direction, well, I could make some good choices there, uh--NO. I took a menu and chose what I felt was the best combination in the moment. I ended up with a meal I could feel good about (see tweet below) and I focused my attention on the loved ones around the table, not the complimentary bread basket. Noah has transitioned to regular food and he's loving every bite, except for broccoli!!! Everyone but me had broccoli on their plate. When Noah clearly rejected the broccoli, I shared with the table how he "is just like his grandpa." Awe yes, the joy of being a grandparent!
I'm feeling incredible as I close in on the 13 week weigh-in coming up on Wednesday. I've eaten out four times this week, which is very rare. All except Thursday night, were special occasions: The Boston concert, class reunion and Courtney's 21st birthday lunch. Tomorrow resumes my Monday through Wednesday spinning class schedule, considering this, it was an easy decision to make today my off day.
My meal tweets today:
I slept in today. This first meal counted as "breakfast."
Grilled chicken (6oz), grilled onions, swiss, cottage cheese, green beans w/bacon. 508 cal. pic.twitter.com/0r4qFMSsjs
— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) July 20, 2014
Try # 2 at making baked chicken & cheese taquitos. With fresh peach. 607 cal. (Including 54 cal of olive oil spray) pic.twitter.com/2eyMcPyCju
— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) July 20, 2014
Pan seared lamb sirloin chop (4.8 oz), sweet potato fries and 3/4 of a yellow apple. #lastfoodofday 540 cal. pic.twitter.com/mYIQoSPdAA
— Sean Anderson (@SeanAAnderson) July 21, 2014
Thank you for reading and your support,