August 31, 2013

Health and Wellness

Good Saturday! It has been an incredible week for me, and I am looking forward to what God has planned for me during the rest of this semester. So far, I feel confident about teaching at GCU. I was overwhelmed, and feeling less than able to teach a few weeks ago. So much has changed in one short week. I am blessed, truly blessed.

Now that I have my work life under control and a good plan laid out, I feel ready to tackle some major health and wellness issues. I have not been able to focus on my health due to chronic stress at work, and the upheaval in my life (moving twice, and now living with my parents). As I consider the past couple years, my life has been a yo-yo -- up and down -- with me reeling to and fro and never feeling settled or able to take control of my health.

It is funny that I am starting to make changes now -- when I have no medical insurance! AGH! I had two good years of medical insurance, but I didn't take advantage of them. I did use my dental benefits recently, thank the Lord, and now have my teeth fixed and no longer in a state of decay (PTL!)

I have been struggling with my weight for the past ten years. Well, if I am honest, for the past thirty years. I was very thin as a child, and all through high school, could eat whatever junk food I wanted to eat, and never worried about weight gain. I did gain, of course, after all that junk food has to go somewhere in your body (LOL!) I was 116 lbs when I was a freshman in high school. I was 123 when I graduated in 1980. I was 132 when I worked at Britton Lee, Inc. (in 1985-1990). I was 146 when I was pregnant with my son (1993), and then found myself at 164 when I gave birth. I zoomed up to 170 in 2001, and finally took control and followed Weight Watchers for a year and lost 35 lbs. My goal weight was 135, and I achieved it in 8 months on the program. I kept that weight off for a long while, but slowly I re-gained the pounds due to stress, lack of exercise, and poor diet.

In 2010, I started working outside the home, and I weighed in at 155. I kept that weight down due to working at Macy's and walking several miles a week. When I started working at UOPX, I was up to 158. After a year of working in a stress-filled environment, and sitting 8 hours a day, my weight went back up to 165. I was shocked, and I was depressed over that fact. I mean -- I had worked so hard to lose the weight back in 2001 - and here I was almost ten years later right back where I started.

I attempted Atkins and Weight Watchers, but neither worked for me. I moved to hyper-stressed filled CVS Caremark in 2012, and gain another 5 lbs over the course of the year there. It didn't help that we had cookies, cakes, and chocolate every day, and that we often went out to lunch during the week.

I left CVS on 8/23, and I weighed myself, and I am now back to 169. I am furious at myself for allowing food to dominate my life, and for my lack of will power to choose good food to eat.

I have prayed about losing weight, and I know what I need to do. I have been unable to do it, so today, I decided that now is as good a time as any to start this process. This time, I am not choosing a diet. I am choosing a lifestyle plan. I realize that my health issues -- chronic constipation, headaches, sinus trouble, back ache, low energy, all stem from my poor diet. My weight gain is all in my belly and around my hips. I look like a pear and I hate it. I hate the fact that I cover up my backside, and that I cannot wear slacks without feeling like my backside is sticking out. Plus I cannot stand my legs rubbing together - it bugs me.

I am miserable, and I know why. I have used food to comfort me during stress-filled times. I have become addicted to carbohydrates, and I have refused to drink enough water to keep myself hydrated. My poor body is crying out for help, and I have been starving it and keeping it from having the food (good food), and water it needs.

No more. I am done with that pathway, and I am ready to start over.

My Health Plan

I am walking about .7 of a mile 5-days each week. This is just getting to and from my classes. If I park on the roof of the parking garage and I walk down the stairs, then I am adding in more walking every day. Plus, I hold office hours in the CAS building, and I can walk up to the 4th floor. This will add more walking so that over all I am walking close to a mile each day that I am at GCU.

My schedule is M-W-F from 11-4:30 (with office hours) and TR 11:00-2:30 (office hours).  I can eat a good breakfast at home before I leave, and then take something for lunch. I can carry some snacks in my laptop case, and drink water. Dinner with the family needs to be healthy, but I can work with the dishes my Mom makes.

My menu plan is as follows (a combination of the Maker's Diet/Primal Blueprint, and the Daniel Plan). I am using a low-carb, high protein, whole foods approach. I am taking grains and processed foods out of my diet -- no sugar. My goal is to reach 145 by Christmas, which I think is very doable. The walking regime will help me get in shape, and then I plan to add some light weight training next month, along with some sprint work (I cannot run, so I plan to bike). I am not going whole hog on the fitness routine - just easing into more activity, so that I can contemplate hiking with friends or sustaining a long shopping trip :o).

Breakfast

I am going to go with an egg-meat combination to start. I like this for breakfast, and it usually works well (when I did Adkins, it was OK). I may create mini-quiche or mini egg/sausage squares that would be easy to make ahead and refrigerate. I am choosing no fruit for the first two weeks, but then will add in berries and grapefruit to my morning breakfast choices. Coffee with HWC instead of milk, creamer or half/half.

Lunch

Lunch is easy -- salad with lots of veggies. If I can add chicken (grilled), I will.

Dinner

Just whatever Mom makes, but without bread, and no starches. I will have a salad or green veggies whenever possible.

Dessert

Probably to start, no dessert. I have a sweet tooth, so I think I will just wait a bit.

Snacks

Carrot sticks, celery, nuts, berries, yogurt, string cheese. Easy foods I can pack in my lunch. I need a little pick me up in the afternoon, especially right after class.

I am giving up breads, pastas and rice. I am also giving up diet soda, and reducing my coffee intake. My goal is to rid myself of the processed foods, and start to eat whole foods that are organic, fresh, and chemical free.

Lord willing, I should make my goal weight by the end of the year (1.5 lbs per week x 4 = 6 lbs a month). My ultimate goal is to get back to my weight from high school. This is my natural weight, and I know that my back and leg pain will diminish once I get this weight off.


August 27, 2013

Settling Into My New Role

I am exhausted today. I think I am decompressing from the stress of working at CVS Caremark, and I am tired from walking across campus two-three times yesterday. The good news is that I will be working out (hooray!) and will not be sitting at a computer all day (like before). I am pleased that I will be moving around and getting my body moving again.

I do feel like I am settling into the new role. Yesterday was good, and I liked the courses I am assisting in. I will get to teach some classes in the one course (hooray!) Not sure about the others, but that is OK. I didn't expect to teach any classes at all this semester.

I am thankful for this opportunity. I have griped and complained about it, worried over the money (or lack thereof), and doubted God's provision for me. I feel really guilty over that (yes, that is what the enemy wants me to do) and I wish I would have had more faith in God. However, He is faithful, and He is forgiving. I know that my slate is clean, and I am not condemned.

God has provided a way for me to become an adjunct professor. I am excited to be able to do this after so many years of wanting to teach, but not having the education or the experience. Now I will have both, and although I cannot work full-time yet, I will have plenty of good experience under my belt by the time I graduate from Regent. My goal is to teach full-time, and between now and then, adjunct instruction is what I have to do. It is a good thing, a really good thing.

This semester I have three courses, and Lord willing, I will have three next semester as well. I would like to start teaching in Fall of 2014. At that point, I will have assisted in six courses (two Dev Writing, and four English Comp). I will also have 18 credits of Communication, which means I can be hired to teach COM classes. I did find out that Adjunct can only teach three courses per semester. Full-time faculty can teach four. In a perfect world, four classes would be good. The average pay for Adjunct courses is $2600 per class per semester. If I taught four classes that would be $10,400 or $2600 per month. It is less than what I was making at CVS, but I could live on it comfortably.

Of course, if I were to be hired full-time by a college or University, then I could make between $40-80K DOE. This is my goal. I need benefits and a full-time position, but for now, I am resting in His Sufficiency and will wait for Him to promote me, to move me into the position of His choosing. I know that where I am now is a temporary-fit. I am starting at the bottom of the totem pole, and I have to work my way up. It is OK, and I am OK with the work. It helps to know that my courses at Regent are so hard, that I can not imagine working in a regular 9-5 job right now. Even a no-brainer type job would be tiring and difficult.

No, I am were I need to be, and the Lord has a plan for my education, my job, and my work (His work). He knows the plans He has for me, and they are GOOD.

Dear Lord,

I thank you for the opportunity to work at GCU this fall. I thank you for the blessing of being a teaching assistant. I am thankful that you are working through me to bring about your will, and that in time, you will promote me and open a door leading to a full-time position again. In the meantime, I trust you, and I rest. I let go of the worries, the fears, and the doubts, and I let all that You are flow through me so I can be your vessel to the world. May your will be done in my life this day, and may you receive all the honor and praise. In Jesus' Name I pray this - Amen.

God be praised for He is so Good. He is Good.

August 24, 2013

Moving On

I finished my last week at CVS Caremark yesterday. It was a good day, and I left the company with happy thoughts and high hopes for a bright new future at Grand Canyon University.

My role as a Communications Analyst came to a close after one year working for this Fortune 500 Pharmaceutical company. It was a good year, overall, even though the welcome season and the stresses of poor management decisions caused a lot of issues, and led to a lack of employee retention.

I was one of seven members to leave the department. Two moved on from the Illinois office, and five from Arizona. Three went outside the company, and the rest moved into internal positions in other groups. Additionally, management suffered some changes as well with a senior leader leaving, and a manager being demoted.

All of this was the result of poor decisions on the part of senior leadership (both in the hiring and firing of vendors and employees). Needless to say, I am relieved to be out of this environment.

I start my new job at GCU on Monday. I will be an Instructional Assistant in three classes this fall: (2) English Composition, and (1) Developmental Writing class. I am very excited (finally) to be settled on this path. I waffled a lot during the last couple weeks -- mostly due to the uneasiness I felt with the pay and the lack of benefits (so it goes as Adjunct). However, as the time drew closer, I realized that there was nothing I could do about it. I am officially employeed at GCU, and while I work on contract, I am set to work 30 hours until the end of December.

I tried to apply for a couple other jobs, but found immediate turn-downs to my application. I gave in last week when I realized that this is the path I chose -- to take the open hand offered that would provide me with a way to become an Instructor. I have blogged about my lack of opportunity to become an Instructor since I was close to finishing my MA program. I went back to school, in part, to become a College Professor. It was a goal of mine from back when I was first in college. My life was interrupted by a blessing -- my beautiful son -- and I gave up all career ideas to be a SAHM.

Many years later, the Lord opened a door for me to return to school. I jumped at the chance, and I have enjoyed the ride since then. I have never looked back, never regretted going back to school. I love studying and learning, and I love being a student.

As a single Mom, it was hard to give up working full-time, a paycheck and benefits. But, I had a choice, and that choice was to take the offer at GCU to become one of their Adjunct Instructors -- AFTER -- one to two semesters as an Assistant. No other school offered this opportunity to me, and I considered it a gift from God. I took it, but I grumbled and complained throughout the weeks leading up to today.

I am on the path to become an Instructor. I will be an Instructor as soon as I decide I am ready to teach. Right now, I think being an "IA" is good enough. I have three classes with 93-97 students in each. I am not the only IA, but still, I will be pretty busy with all the papers and assignments.  In addition, I have two doctoral classes, and potentially a third research class this semester (at UOPX). I am booked solid, and truthfully, there is no way I would offer to teach without first experiencing the class environment.

I am looking forward to meeting with the instructors next week, and getting to see them in action. This could be me in a year, so I am going to be observing them, watching what they do, and how they do it. If this is the path the Lord has chosen for me, then I want to make sure I understand how to do the job -- and then do the job well.

Lastly, as I consider all that has happened, I am still a bit winged (as in being hit and slightly off-kilter). I feel like I am floating through this experience, and not really living it fully. It is like I am soaring along, but I am not doing anything. I believe this is what God had in mind when He said that He would do it through me. Is this not what the Apostle Paul said when he wrote Gal. 2:20 NLT, "My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me."

God has brought me through this past year. He has safe-guarded me, and provided for me. I am now embarking on a new path, following Him because I don't know where I am going or how I am to get there. I am resting in His ability to do all this work through me, living through me, and ultimately, bringing Himself the glory. I thank Him today for He is Good to me, so very Good to me.


August 19, 2013

Counting down the days

It has been almost 20 days since my last post. I am not sure why I have been absent from this blog, but maybe it is just because I am so busy. Or maybe it is because things are moving so quickly that I don't really have time to sit and think, really think about anything. So much has happened over the past couple weeks. My life has literally taken a major U-turn, and I am now heading in a different direction. I have felt the whirlwind of emotional panic as the Lord up and lifted me out of my place, and put me on a new path. I wasn't happy, not happy at all, but I have endeavored through it. I had so much upset, so many complaints, and all these emotions that I spent the majority of the time complaining and crying out to the Lord.

"Oh, Lord! What is going on?"
"Why am I so miserable today?"
"Why is this happening?"

I would then lament about my misery, and complain some more.

"Lord, I don't understand what is happening?"
"What is wrong?"
"Why do I feel this way today?"

It has been a rough couple weeks, but here I am at the end of it. I have to report that nothing has changed for me, as in, gotten better. My attitude has shifted, and that is a good thing, but my circumstances are exactly the same as they were back on August 3rd. God is still in His heaven, and He reigns. He has not been moved, shaken, or upset from His place of Glory. Nope, He is where He is, and I am where I am. I guess you could say it is exactly as it is meant to be.

Updated News

Today marks the last Monday that I will work at CVS Caremark. I am thankful for the job and I am thankful for the opportunity to work for this great company. I have not had a good experience while there, but the job and company were blessings to me. The work load and environment where heavy and difficult. I wasn't happy; I was stressed, so very stressed all the time. In the end, I am happy to be leaving, and glad that I do not have to continue to work there through the 2013-14 Welcome Season.

Grand Canyon University

I am officially hired now. I attended orientation, and I have my badge and parking permit. I am a part-time employee, not guaranteed anything, but for all intents and purposes, I am where I am.

The path was not easy, and I spent most of the month being frustrated over their practices. I have two classes only. The third, I have asked for, but have not received any contract on yet. School starts Monday, and I am content to be an Instructional Assistant for one semester, maybe two. After that, I am trusting the Lord to provide instructor positions, and enough pay to live on.

I am thanking the Lord for His provision now, and I am trusting Him to provide for me. I have relinquished my unhappiness over the salary (meek at best), and I have let go of everything else. I am content to follow Him to this school, and to wait and see Him provide.

God knows what He is doing, and while I am thankful for the student teaching opportunity, I cannot help but think that the money is not enough, and we are going to be poor again. I cannot think that way, but I must trust the Lord - He knows best. I am resting in HIM - in all of HIM. He is sufficient, and I am good.

University of Phoenix

I cannot believe that I am in week 5 of my Research class. Part of me is so glad that this class is over, and part of me wishes it could continue on. I have enjoyed the class assignments, and I have learned a lot about marketing and research proposals. I will take another research class in the fall or spring to give me a graduate level research course. I need a break from the tedium of the 4 out of 7 days posting, and the weekly papers. I have done well, I have an A in the class. My hope is the my learning team project doesn't drop my grade any, but really I don't care that much anymore. The regimen at UOPX is tough, and at this point, I just want to be done.

Regent University

I started two new doctoral classes today. I am very excited about these courses, and I look forward to learning more about the history of communication, and organizational communication. I love Regent University! I absolutely love it. I am so blessed to be a student at this school, and I look forward to completing my education there.

In closing

I have had a rough couple weeks. I know what I am responsible for now, and I know that all this stuff, this mess, was partly of my creation. I reacted badly to some news I received regarding GCU, and I stewed and fretted over it for three weeks. My entire attitude and countenance was downcast, and as such, I was miserable. I was so miserable. God didn't remove me from my situation, and He didn't provide a way out for me. He made me endure the trial, and stick it through to the end. I still don't have the answers, and I don't see the way out clearly. I am where I am, and I am content to be here so long as He is here with me. I know He is in this and He will not leave me stranded. God is Good like that, so very good.

August 3, 2013

All Quiet - Something must be wrong?


Ever get the feeling something was wrong because it was too quiet? This is how I feel today. I don't really think anything is wrong. In fact, I don't feel panicked or anxious about anything. Something must be wrong because this is NOT my normal state of things!

I remember my Mom used to worry when things got very quiet. Never would she find my brothers and I sitting quietly in a corner, reading or playing a game. Nope, usually, that quiet signaled the start of something really BIG. BIG like an explosion (my brothers were always building or blowing things up - I mostly tagged along with them).

My normal is not QUIET. On the outside, my life looks pretty low-key, hum drum, and very quiet. On the inside, however, my mind races, and I am constantly working on plans, on projects, and on purposes. My life inside is far from quiet. It is not a raucous concert by any means. I would say it was more like the constant hum of a motor or the tick-tick-tick of a nice watch.

This past week has been anything but NORMAL for me. First off, despite the fact that I had two days off (one planned, one not), and one work from home day in between, my workweek was odd, off, and just awful. Some things are heating up again at work, team members are feeling the pressure, and while I am on my way out (only 20 more days), I still feel the pangs and pricks of the hostile environment.

Second, my training with GCU started on Monday. I was disappointed to say the least. I felt that the online training was difficult, and the faculty services group absent. I was not the only person enrolled in the training. Most expressed frustration over the process of a passing grade, of broken links, and generally, of having to figure out the online training on your own. Perhaps that was the point of it all? I don't know, but thanks to my IT/techy background, I did fine. I took the lead, asked questions, went outside the system to get the answers I needed. I passed, and I am OK, but there were others in the group who seemed lost, and I felt really bad for them. They should have been shown what to do, and definitely given more instruction. Besides, this tool and training is to rate new and potential faculty - so frankly - the instructional system lacked BIG TIME. Again, perhaps this was the purpose - I don't know - I just think that they could have made it a bit more user friendly than they did.

Third, I was disappointed that I was scheduled for two classes only. I was told I would get three classes, and that is the reason I took the job. I cannot live on two classes - I am making minimum wage. I budgeted for three, I turned down a full-time counselor position for three, and here I am sitting at this point and only scheduled for two. I am not a happy camper.

Last, despite all of the issues with GCU last week, I decided that I am actually liking my class at UOPX. Hard segue-way, I know. My class at UOPX started on July 23rd, and I really didn't like it. I didn't like the 4 out of 7 days posting, the 2 substantive posts, the general panic over whether you are doing enough in class to get all your points for the week.

It took a week before I decided that the class was OK. I like the instructor, and I am learning a lot about research. I feel that the content, while easy, is good. I am doing well in it (it is after all a bachelors level course), and I like the team I am in for the class project. My team is strong, and our project work is going well. I am getting full points for my individual work, and full points for our team work. I hope I will get an A in the class.

So my week in a nutshell has been off, just plain off, the normal routine. I have blitzed through it without much care, yet I have worried about things being too easy, too good, too together. Not everything is as it should be, meaning GCU, but I am not panicked over these details. I know God has some plan in mind, and I am still going to walk away from my job at CVS Caremark.

What is He up to? What is He doing with my life?

Truthfully, things are not good, on face value. I am leaving a full-time benefited position in 20 days. I am starting a part-time, less than satisfactory paying job, without any contract or commitment to future earnings. I am walking on in faith, with absolutely no certainty that this is the way I am to go. I am not worried about it. I am not gripped with fear over it. I am just walking on through it, and I am thinking to myself that something doesn't seem right. I mean, shouldn't I be angry over all this change? Shouldn't I be upset that my promised course load is less than promised? Shouldn't I be up in arms over the fact that I will have no solid income in less than 3 weeks? I should be stark raving mad right about now, but instead, I am cool as a cucumber, and resting in the sufficiency of His Good Name.

I am not boasting. I am not bragging. I SHOULD be panicked. This is my NORMAL. I should be upset, and angry, and worried, and stressed. These are my typical behaviors whenever anything changes in my life. Yet, I am calm. I am at peace. I am settled.

Yes, I have questions, and I have doubts. I pray to God and I ask Him -- "Lord, are you sure everything is OK?" I question my seeing ability, knowing it is short-sighted and flawed. "Lord, I am not seeing how this is going to work out? Are you sure I am on the right path?"

Still, I sit here and think "What in the world are you doing, God?" What are you up to in my life?

Something has changed. Something is happening. He is moving and changing and re-arranging my life. I feel it, I sense it, but I am not panicked by it. I am just leaning on Him, resting, and waiting for Him to do whatever He is doing for me. He tells me He has me covered - I am covered by His Grace. I know this, I know this is why I am OK today. I ask Him about the situation, and He tells me to rest. I say "OK" and then I sit at His feet, and drop all those tiny boxes of worries, of doubts, and of fears. I let them roll out of my hands, into my lap, and fall down at His feet. He picks them up, and keeps them for me. I let them all go. I sit there by myself, with nothing in my hands, nothing to contribute, and I rest. I let Him do it all. I let Him be Lord. I let Him control the details, and make the moves. I watch, I follow, and I listen. He does it all, and it all works out for my good (Rom. 8:28).

Yes, God is good. All the time, God is GOOD.