Posted in Dads, Healthy Living, Memorial, Post a week

Fitting Forty: His Hands

June 18, 2017, was Father’s Day. I decided that I should spend the day with my Dad. Most people will take their Father’s to a restaurant, maybe go to a ball game, or even make a grand dinner. I however spent time with my Father at his grave.

My Dad had a battle with prostate cancer that he lost on January 2, 2012 . He ashes are interned in a Veteran’s cemetery outside of my hometown of Chicago. He was a Korean War Veteran  that served in the Navy as a Seaman. He ended up doing 2 tours staying in the Navy for 8 years in total.  Although he served his country and held several titles in his life, the one he held for me is my first Love.

My Father and I did everything together. When I was a kid, I would spend my weekends with him. He had a 1977 charcoal convertible Volkswagen Beetle. The car had no heat so you could only drive in the spring/summer. It had a pull out radio just like the movie McGruber. He and his friend Rip rebuilt the car from the ground up and he would go to an auto parts store called Wachowski’s in the South Loop constantly buying car parts because the thing was super uber sensitive!

I loved that car. I supposed I loved it so much because I knew that every time I got into it, it would be an adventure that only he and I would share together. The adventure could be as mundane as going to dentist or the grocery store or as fascinating as  a Chinese dinner in Dalton or China town. My Dad and I shared a deep love for stir fry.

I often reflect back on the times we had together, like watching Miami Vice on Friday Nights (it was cheesy but we cared not!), practicing the piano in his living room (He loved Beethoven), or watching him build a doll house for me that we go to the north suburbs for parts (drove my sisters crazy he built it for me! ha ha!). No matter what we did, it was always special to me because I was his running buddy and his reflection in female form. I looked just like him from the speckles in this hands and feet to the wide smile that paints our faces when we find something funny. He loved to laugh.

When I visited his grave, I put my hands on his name stone. I often look at my hands and if I stare at them long enough, they look just like his. The more they look like his hands, I start to hear his voice. I hear him talking to me about when he was growing up, him giving me a chore to do (he really liked doing that) or hearing him sing a jazz song like “Angel Eyes” or an opera aria sung by Franco Corelli. The main reason why I have such a deep love for music (especially classical music) was all because of him.

My mind often wanders back to him and without trying. I would hear a phrase, a song, or see something as I walk by that would remind me of him. Even when I have life decisions to make, I think to myself “What Would Daddy Do?”

Making it to this age, I hope within my being that he’d be proud of me. If anyone wanted me to get my health together, it was him. I know I say I made the decision to get my health together to save my life, but I also say to him, “Dad, I did it. I finally did it.”

He was and still is my motivation to press forward in life. Although he isn’t present physically, I still feel him with me because I refuse to forget him. But why would I? He is a part of me and forgetting him would be forgetting myself. I miss him dearly but as time goes on, it does not hurt so much that he is not on Earth. Rest in Heaven Daddy. Please know, I love you.

 

 

 

 

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Posted in Healthy Living, Post a week, Women's Health

Fitting Forty: All for Health’s Sake

An integral part about getting older is really being conscious about your health and well being. Let’s face it, you are no spring chicken and your body sends subtle (and no so subtle) hints this is the case. I know for me my hints come in the morning. Picture the sun starting to send it’s rays through your bedroom window. Your eyes start to flicker as you hear a faint tune of Morning Song by Grieg playing in your head (at least you wish because what you actually hear it that stupid alarm on your phone going off at 6:00 am in the morning!)  I am sorry, let’s go back to the ethereal scene. You then smile thinking of how great it is to be alive, how you are going to just Carpe Diem the hell out of the day, and then you decide to sit up and hear CRUNCH! That will be the sound a few joints you have to rub while you desperately try to gather yourself out of bed! Yeah, that did not happen when you were in your twenties! That was a case of cold reality hitting you in the face like a bucket of ice water!

This comes with the territory. Joints not always responding like how you want, your body not really doing what you want it to do, and you wanting to find some relief in it all. You think, should I exercise? Should I eat better? Should I go to the doctor? Should I drink this entire bottle of wine I picked up from the grocery store on my way home from work (Riesling being the favorite.)? I am going with wine!

Although wine is good choice for any occasion, getting older means being more serious about how your body is functioning. Since this is all about being 40 (read the title), I personally met another health milestone I had to take care of. The dreaded mammogram! Now, the only reason why I call it dreaded was because I would listen to my mom describe to me in mitigated detail her experience with mammograms. She described the cold plates. The two plates coming together like a car compactor smashing your breasts together and squeezing your very existence making you regret being a woman! Also, the walk of shame leaving the room because you subjected yourself to this torture!

I had all of these thoughts in my head when it was time to get my mammogram. I first had to get over the whole I am actually old enough to be considered to get this done part. When I got through that, I had to get past all the stories and the building fear coming to roost in my throat! “Okay Cynthia”, I said to myself, “Put on your big girl panties and take this like a soldier!” I step in the lab where the machine is, follow the instructions of the lab tech, and went through all the different positions and squeezing. My conclusion was that the mammogram was not that bad. The lab tech was also very nice and walked me through everything because she knew it was my first time and I was a bit nervous. But can you blame me???

Accepting this whole mammogram business is all a part of being very aware of your age and health, at least it was for me. Leading up to the mammogram, my doctor and I had a chat about what women of my age should be doing in order to maintain their health and well being. Here are a few things women in their forties should be doing:

  1. Do regular check ups with your primary care physician to make sure they have a base line for your overall well being and can monitor any changes. This should be done at least once a year.
  2. When reaching your Forties, get a mammogram to make sure your breast health is in order. If the breast have no abnormalities, this does not have to be done for another 10 years.
  3. Do self checks breast exams. Feel for any lumps or bumps. If you feel one, see your doctor to check them to make sure they are not cancerous. Often time lumps and bumps can be a result of acne or just cyst that are harmless, but it is good to stay on the side of caution.
  4. Stay on top of your pap smears. My doctor said you should getting one every 1 to 3 years. Also if you are sexually active, make sure to get tested for any sexually transmitted diseases. Getting tested should happen every six months to be on the cautious side.
  5. Adopt a healthier way of eating and exercise. The older you get, the more you are subject to heart disease which is the number one killer of women but often times can be prevented by making changes in this area to keep your heart healthy and happy!
  6. Find a way to live a more stress free life. Pick up a hobby or do something for yourself to make you feel good! No one can be better to yourself than you!

Getting older is inevitable but it does not have to be a strain or something to loathe. The best way to embrace your age is to make sure your health is in order. I said it before, I am in better shape and my health is better now at 40 than at 30. That is only because I decided to take the necessary steps to get that way. It was not rocket science, it was just taking one step at a time. Remember, only you can make this life the best for you. No one else can do it for you. You only have one life to live. Make the best of it!

 

 

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About

CAM: THE MYTH, THE LEGEND, THE HUMAN! Hi, I’m Cynthia McDonald and I write CAM Fitting Forty and Beyond. I am currently work in print and digital media industry in Chicago IL. When I am not in my c…

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Fitting Forty: Radiate from Fear

One of my favorite things to do to unwind from the day is binge watch. Netflix and other streaming services knew they were on to something! And me being who I am (weird) I find the most obscure things to binge watch. This week, I’ve been watching a Hindi Soap Opera about Siddhartha Gautama and his journey on becoming Buddha which means an enlightened being. The entire series is in subtitles and Heaven forbid you dozing off. You kind of miss out on what’s going on. The series starts with Siddhartha’s parents being King and Queen of the Shayka Republic. The king had 2 wives that were sisters. Though both wives desired to have children, one in particular was over whelmed with sadness because she was barren. One night, the King was going to lay with one of the sister wives. The one sister wife insisted the King lay with the wife thought to be barren. He obliged her and the barren wife was blessed by a CGI elephant carrying a lotus (no lie this was on the series) and 9 months later Siddhartha was born!

The series went on by showing how Siddhartha was a dominant figure in everything he set his mind to do but he was over burdened by questions. His father previously received a prophecy that Siddhartha would become an ascetic (basically a non-violent spiritual monk) and the King was having no parts of that. He tried to shield his son from all pain in the world like sickness, poverty, and death but Siddhartha found out about these things anyway. This lead him into the forest to seek a way to escape pain of the world. After seeking guru after guru, fasting, yoga, and almost killing himself; he ended up meditating under a tree where eventually he found enlightenment.

I found this story very intriguing. Besides loving all the costumes and the funny looking singing guy that would pop up ever so often to do a song and dance number, Bollywood staple, I actually found myself taking notes during the series. The series was dropping some pretty heavy stuff that made me reflect over my own life journey. One of the things he said that stuck with me is we lose focus and our minds have a tendency to go into different places at one time. We worry about our future, we cry over our past. What matters now is this very moment. Subsequently, we can then realize our true worth.

For a long time, I personally let the past and the future dominate everything about me. I worried about my past struggles and the negative things that were said to me and done to me growing up. I worried about my future being slave to my addictions that were bred out of rejection and self hate. It took a very long time to realize the all of this was a manifestation of fear. Fear of the past, the future, of success, and of failure. That was the basic thing that had me stuck for the longest time. It kept me immobile and stagnate with the inability to truly find my voice. It was not until I made a decision to live, literally to change my mind, that I was able to find myself out of my fears and live a more abundant life.

I sometimes get questions about my weight loss and what were the steps I took to get going. Although I took many steps, the first one I took was to literally change my mind. Change the way I was thinking.  Change the way I looked at myself. Decide to live the life that was given to me because it is a gift. Would you throw away precious stones given to you? If you chose to stay in the same place you are now, although you want to progress, you are throwing away precious jewels which is your life. When you chose not to live, you chose to stay in slumber. Not conscious of all the beauty that is around you and within you.

Siddhartha also said that after our awakening a person has a very different  perspective of looking than a person who is still in slumber. You have a different way of looking. You notice the sunlight and how it helps the trees grow. You notice the rain drops and how it helps nurture. You will realize how it is all part of the universe. When you awake or decide to release out of fear, you radiate. You shine a light so brilliant that others see it around you and in you. You then go after a better life and all that it has to offer you. It all starts with a changed mind. That is such a simple idea but being truly awake helps you realize it.

I don’t consider myself a sage. I consider myself as a student because I am never afraid to learn. I had to learn from my past and I had to embrace my future. I had to realize that to live better, I had to think better. A better life starts with a decision. You want a better life? You want to progress? Decide it. See the light that is your future. Let go of fear that will inhibit you. See yourself in a better way. Embrace life because it is a gift and you only get one. I challenge you on this day. Decide…

 

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Fitting Forty: Life Events

 

A whole 9 days have pass since I have traveled my 40th year around the sun. It was a great celebration. My loved ones blessed me immensely. I would definitely have to say the cherry on top was the Tears for Fears /Hall and Oats concert I attended where I screamed my head off and sang every song to the top of my lungs just like I was a teenager. I do hope the people behind forgive me when I got up and started dancing to Shout. I am sorry but that was my jam! To hear it live too? Oh my God I can go now!

So with all the celebrating I did, including running an entire 5k and getting the best time I ever had since I started doing 5k’s which was 43:28, I get a quaint email reminding me that I am no longer a spring chicken.  The benefits center through my employer informed me that since I experienced a “life event”, that my benefits could be affected. Life event? A whole life event? For real a WHOLE life event????  Now I sat back in my office chair, read the email a few times, thought to myself what life event, and then gave the benefits center a ring. While I was on hold for a representative, I started to contemplate what in the entire green earth are they talking about? When you think life event, you think of getting married, buying a house, or having children. At this time, I am not married; I live in my child hood home, and have no children that I am aware of. I think if there was a conception, I would hope to be informed!

The representative finally comes on the phone. I give my identifying information and told them about the email that I received concerning a change in MY benefits because of my NEW LIFE EVENT! (Whatever that means!) The representative goes on to tell me since I turned 40, I could be subject to my health and life benefits changing. In the next couple of pay checks, my long term disability payment is going up 2 dollars per pay period. This is all because I am getting old! At least that is what he wanted to say but he needs his job so he kept our conversation PC.  So you mean to tell me since I am a woman of a certain age, I have to pay more for a certain benefit that I may or may not take advantage of? Are you kidding me?????

 

I found myself a bit miffed about this whole “Life Event”. The facts are as such. I am in the best shape of my life. I was able to reverse every health issue I had by losing 260 pounds. I run 5ks for fun! I eat better, I exercise, I drink water, and I take vitamins. I mean, I am in better shape than some twenty something’s I know! So just because my age has increased, none of that matters? Really????? Joe, I need to send you some medical records!

I had to gather myself. I started to ponder on all the things I was able to accomplish in a span of three years. I had to come to the realization that I am dope! So what I am 40! So what this email came to remind me of this “life event” I personally feel to depress me. I am a warrior, a conqueror, and worthy to celebrate making it to 40. I know others that have not made it this far.  I know of two in particular that developed health problems because of their weight and was not able to see 40. I was blessed to receive my wake-up call and I have not looked back.

I did not realize making it to 40 was considered a life event but I suppose it does.  It is not a walk down the aisle or the doctor telling you congratulations it a girl or a boy. It is a rite of passage to a wondrous time in life. You get to experience life wiser and more experienced. You are not so impetuous. You use discretion when making decisions. You are more settled and okay with who you are. This is the real you with no pretense. This is me. No more and no less.

I mentioned in my previous post that 40 was a significant number. It represents a generation, trial, and journey. If you can live to see another generation, if you can live and survive life’s trials, if you can be able to endure this journey in front of you, then yes Virginia you experienced a “Life Event”. That is worthy of pat on the back and cheer in your honor. #Salute

 

 

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Fitting Forty. A journey renewed.

When I was growing up on the south side of Chicago, my family and I had an Easter Tradition. My mom, sisters and I would stay up on Easter eve, dye eggs and watch The Ten Commandments. Even though I’ve seen that movie sooooo many times, I make sure to sit myself down and watch it like I never seen it before in my life! It never ceases to amaze me that this motion picture was able to capture such great visuals not utilizing the technology available today. The sets were elaborate, the costumes were glamorous, the acting was over the top and who can forget the parting of the Red Sea! My kind of flick!

In the Ten Commandments, I had a favorite character but it wasn’t Moses . Too much like right to cheer for the hero! I personally like the villain which was Pharaoh Ramesses II played by Yule Brenner.  There were several things I loved about his character. I loved the simple satin linens that were perfectly accessorized golden armor. I loved the way he stood with legs slightly outside shoulder width apart with hands on his side and the stern look on his face in every scene. That was his command stance that he used often to let everyone know around him that he was ruler and he had final say over everything. With that said, my most favorite thing about him was when he made a decree that was going to be placed in record, he would utter the most iconic words, “So let it be written, so let it be done”!

I suppose writing a thing and watching it come to pass is what lead me to this point in my life. Today is a pivotal day. It is the day I turn 40. Such a significant age. It represents new generation (birth), it represents test and represents journey. In the Ten Commandments, the Israelites were show wandering the desert for 40 years until they were able to enter Canaan which was their promise land. They journeyed for 40 years and the trip only would have taken 10 days. They had to wander that time to allow a new  generation to be born to inherit the land that point.

As I reach my 40 year on this Earth, I have been through quite a journey. I have experience happiness, sadness, loss and triumph. The greatest triumph that I celebrate everyday was taking my health into my hands and making a decision to save my life. I am super proud that I have lost close to 260 pounds .Now I embark on a new leg of this journey. Part of it is maintaining but I see me opened to new things as well. Open to what life has to offer. Opening my heart to new experiences and constantly challenging myself to become better. I so want my loved ones to come with me on this journey, as well as new loves too.

I know my journey is not just for me. I know that I went through the trials I experienced to help others who may be struggling with the same issues I faced. This blog is an attempt to share those experiences (old and new) that you may glean from it and set your sights on the journey laid before you. So I ask you, with no bravado, would you like to take this trip with me? Say yes and you will never be the same.