The Whistler's Dream

Everybody needs a dream...
Mine is to go to Oklahoma and play whistles for The Pioneer Woman. (Having been invited, not in a "creepy stalker" kind of way, for the record.) Heck, I'd play in a pup tent in the backyard for the joy of the cows and critters. What can I say? I'm a fan.
Everybody needs a dream...

Random Fluffy Foto!

Random Fluffy Foto!
Writing in bed, and Beka editing by ear. Really. The ear typed some letters. Really.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Movies According To Cal

Because it's Wednesday,

Because I have to go spend the afternoon up to my elbows in dishes before putting a glazed pork loin in the oven for dinner,

And because I'm trying to emulate one of my blogging idols, the Pioneer Woman, who often uses this exact format for some of her posts, but then announces a wondrous prize giveaway whilst I am giving away nothing but (hopefully) a few smiles,

We present a list of Cal's all-time 100% never-fail sure-to-make-him-smile, laugh, weep or belch, FAVORITE MOVIES!!!

Bonus feature - a favorite quote from said movie. Extra value for your reading pleasure... Or whatever you call it.

(please hold your applause until the end... If at all)

10) Harry Potter and the whatever-it-is-thingie-du-jour... Love 'em all, especially when viewed with a RiffTrax playing. "You're a little scary - you know that? Brilliant... But scary."

(RiffTrax, while immensely enjoyed by Cal and endured by Vicki, are most certainly not advisable for all audiences. Individual discretion is advised)

A RiffTrax HP quote? Hmmm... nope. I'll give you a quote - just not yet. Patience, my young padawan. Which brings us to...

9) Star Wars... All 6 of 'em. Sweetness. And yes, I do listen to the RiffTrax with these too. "Obi-Wan has taught you well."

8) Down Periscope... One of those guilty pleasure movies that makes me laugh out loud every time. "It's a complete piece of... antiquated equipment, sir."

7) The Princess Bride... Because every movie list must contain it. No exceptions. It's a rule. Really go look it up.

A quote? No - most folks can quote the whole movie. At least, most folks that I hang out with.

6) Batman... In all its many forms and variations, from Adam West to Michael Keaton to George Clooney through The Dark Night. Oh, and even Val What's-His-Name, when I'm feeling giddy. "If you kill him, he won't learn nuttin'!"

6) TRON... both classic and Legacy, which ABSOULTELY ROCKS!!! "I fight for the users!"

5) The Incredibles... Totally amazing, and what a great soundtrack. "that was totally WICKED!!"

4) LOTR... All three, extended editions or theatrical releases with RiffTrax. "The salted pork is especially good."

Overheard in the RiffTrax in Return Of The King when the Palantir says, "I see you," RiffTrax says, "oh, it's just a Navi, trying to bond."

3) Up... One of my absolute favorites, especially to watch with Vicki. We weep like willows within the first 2 minutes of this baby. "SQUIRREL!!" (pause, looking around...)

Actually, the best quote would be "Thanks for the adventure!" (Vicki got some tears just reading that)

2) Avatar... I know - everybody lists Avatar, but if I don't list it, then I don't get to insert my favorite RiffTrax quote, when she says "you're like a baby!" and the RiffTrax says " you're like a baby - eatin' da strained peas an' poopin' in yer Uggies!"

Vicki about throttled my nephew and I when we saw the re-release of Avatar in the IMAX and we were quoting the RiffTrax all through the film...

1.5) what? Hey - my list, my rules...

1.5) Cars... Saw it opening weekend at the drive-in in Muskegon, and it's been a fave ever since. "Will you turn down that disrespectful noise?" "Respect the classics, man - it's Hendrix!"

And now, the top of the heap, the pick of the pile, the crown jewel of the ring pop...

1) Nanny McPhee / Nanny McPhee Returns... Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Emma Thompson is so gifted in so many ways, and these movies show that so well. "I am Nanny McPhee - small C, big P."

So, what can one say about such a list? All-encompassing? Totally reflective of all that is cinema? Wrong-headed, narrow and useless? Well, dear friends, the bitter truth is this is MY list - how it reflects reality makes no difference whatsoever. In my little world, these movies reign supreme...

Which is just another reason for you all to have the utmost sympathy for Vicki and uphold her with your prayers. Thank you.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Milestones in Missouri

Still catching up from Christmas and the holidays in general. "Dude," I hear you say, "it's past mid-January. What up wif dat?" And I reply, "that's how I roll, dawg."

Sometimes I'm so down with my bad self that it hurts. Really. Literally.

We took a trip to Missouri for Christmas, to visit some of my favorite people in the world - our "nephew" and "niece" and their respective (and even respectful, at times) spouses.

The quotes? Well, although these two aren't technically related to us, as isn't their brother who rode down with us, they are in fact as dear to us as any other of our nieces or nephew. Their mom is our dear sister, and we love them all bunches and bunches. So I guess the quotes are really unnecessary. Just ignore them when you read this again, 'k?

I've been trying to be mindful to notice the little milestones in my journey as they whizz past - sometimes a blur, sometimes so shining and bright that they take my breath away. Which is alright - these days, I have a little extra breath to spare. And, when I remember (I really should remember more often!), I try and document the milestones - to raise another stone to look back and remember, so that I will always know that as God has been, so He shall be. A whole bunch of milestones came and went on this trip, and while I've probably forgotten some, I wanted to get a few written down while I was thinking of it.

Blogging. Random thoughts made visible for everyone to endure... um, I mean, enjoy. Yeah - enjoy. That's what I meant. Or as puts it, "never have so many had so little to say to so few." Carrying on, then...

1) Traveling - when we would stop for fuel, to let Ezri get out to stretch her legs and "hoist tail," or to let ourselves stretch our legs and "hoist something," I was able to just get out of the car and walk. No pain, no stiffness (other than what any normal person would feel after being in a car for a few hours) - just get out, walk in the rest area or gas station and that was that. Or even, *gasp*, actually fill the car myself while Vicki either goes inside to "hoist" or take Ezri for the aforementioned "hoisting."

And, no shifting and squirming while riding in the car, trying to find a new position to ease my aching knees. All was cool and froody. (as it says in The Hitchhiker's Guide To The Galaxy)

2) Staying with AndyBabes & ShantyBabes - (which are names that they NEVER go by, btw...) We slept on an air mattress. On the floor. Together.

Um... so?

Lemmie 'splain, as I often quote.

Previously, to travel and stay someplace, I had to have the following: raised twin air bed, adjustable twin air mattress to go on top to elevate my head, pillows to go under my legs and elevate them, pillows to go under my arms to support them and my shoulders, pillow for my head, the CPAP and all of its parts, including clean or distilled water for the humidifier.

And that was just for ME - Vicki would usually just roll up in a sleeping bag on the floor, rather than have to carry more stuff.

This trip (and now on): Queen size air mattress, Mattress Genie (to elevate our heads slightly), pillows, sleeping bag to cover the mattress, 2 blankets to wrap up in. That's it. If there's a bed where we're going, all we need are our pillows and the Mattress Genie.

Traveling just became fun again. I can't WAIT to go to the Shack sometime and not take all that crap along just to try and sleep. And actually sleep in a beautiful log bed. *purrrrr*

3) First trip not only not using CPAP, but WE DIDN'T EVEN TAKE THE THING WITH US. Sorry to shout, but that still amazes me. As I've said in another post, I never ever even imagined that I'd ever be without CPAP. Not in my wildest dreams or deepest hopes. When God says, "your chains are gone," He doesn't mean just a few or a little - He means ALL of them, TOTALLY smashed and done with. I'm humbled, amazed, stunned, and thankful.

4) We did a bit of walking this trip - an outlet mall in Branson, as well as a Christmas shop / village there, all over Bass Pro Shop in Springfield, and the mall where ShantyBabes works. I knew that we were going to be walking, and so came prepared by NOT bringing my wheelchair. It remained in the basement where it's been since a couple of months after surgery. Anywhere we went, it was on my own two feet. Did I get tired at times? Oh yeah. Was it amazing? Oh heck yeah!

5) The stunned look on the face of AndyBabes when I got out of the car was worth the trip. He'd seen pictures on FB, but if you haven't seen me in person since the surgery, it really is a shock. The change is profound.

Side note: if you haven't seen me in person since the surgery, no need to apologize and say, "I didn't recognize you." I totally understand - there have been days when I didn't recognize myself.

Other side note: while I can bubble on for hours about this journey and the amazing things that God has done, I promise to be more mindful in conversations and not dominate them with tales of having my innards redecorated. Unless you really want to hear about it, of course. And feel free to say, "enough!"

6) Being light enough to take AndyBabe's Catrike Speed for a spin was so totally SWEET. And yet so very, very bad since it created a lingering discontent and even a contemplation of disloyalty to my beloved TerraTrike - yea, even envisioning the possibility of jumping over to the Dark Side. That Catrike was AMAZING!

I THINK I'm using TOO MANY caps in this POSTING. Sorry ABOUT that.

As I said, there were more milestones I'm sure - not worrying if there were seats that would accommodate me, not being concerned that I might break a dining room chair, being able to fit in the shower and on the throne, not having to bring a shower stool, etc. The ease with which I move through life these days is astonishing.

Part of my purpose in setting January aside was to stop and notice things for a while - to see just how far I've come in 9 months, and to see just what amazing things lie ahead. I think I just summed up a big part of my path in that last sentence above - "the ease with which I move through life these days is astonishing." Never put it into those words before, but it's so true. Guess that's another milestone, to the glory of God. He made this path, opened it before me, and grants the grace and strength to walk it each day. Thank You Father for a tiny, tiny glimpse of what You mean when you say "abundant."

Friday, January 14, 2011

Dear White Car Dude...

Dear white car dude,

First of all, lest I be accused of the whole "speck in your eye / plank in my eye" thing, I do regret laying on the horn as you flew past me this morning. There was some small justification in such an action, but it allowed frustration to rule my response, and caused my last few minutes with my wife before dropping her off at the office to be tense, which is wrong. I confess, that was a bad response on my part.

Now, let's see about that speck...

White car dude - that's so clumsy... mind if I just call you Dude? Thanks awfully.

Dude, what concerns me isn't the single act of blasting around me, over the double yellow line, in excess of the 35 mph speed limit (and to be fair, I WAS doing about 33 at the time) and flying up Bradford to the entrance to Cornerstone. (By the way - do you have any idea how many people ditch their cars each year around the corner at Leffingwell and Bradford? Look it up sometime - more than you'd expect.) No, what concerns me is that it was just the first in a series of actions I observed.

In retrospect, I'm guessing you thought I was one of the senior folks who make their way to the Heart Center or one of the medical offices, perhaps a kindly older person heading to Calvary. I'm guessing you didn't think you'd fly around two Cornerstone alumni (and staff members) who've been driving around that corner more years than you've been alive, but I pretty well knew who was following me before you launched. Out of state license plates, excessive speed, disregard for rules - I really hate it when prejudices are proven right.

So I saw you zoom around me over the double yellow line, well in excess of the 35 mph limit, fly up to the driveway, head onto campus like a bat out of... Florida, turn the wrong way on the roundabout, go backwards in the Gainey lot (right past the Do Not Enter signs), try to cram your car into a space that was too small but very close, finally come to rest in the "space that is NOT a space" by Food Service, and saunter into Bolthouse, chatting away on your cell. No backpack or books in evidence, so no excuse such as being terminally late for class for example. As I said, it wasn't the one act but the entire series that caused me to have a few questions...

Beside the obvious, "what the HECK were you thinking," of course. And for the record, I'm guessing this wasn't your first excursion into the world of extreme driving. Just a hunch there.

Dude, again and again we hear the student body telling the powers that be how they are adults, how they should be allowed more adult activities and behaviors, since they are adults and can handle (yea, even deserve) the aforementioned adult activities because they are, after all, adults. So, how did your actions on this particular Friday morning at around 9:20am reinforce this claim?

Ok - that might have been a little snarky. Try these questions on for size instead...

What statement did you make to us about your worldview and core beliefs in this list of choices?

(One scenario to ponder - what if I was indeed a senior, on my way to the Heart Center, and when you blasted past over the double yellow line you lost control on the slippery road and took me out on your way by? How does worldview fit into that?)

What part does your faith and walk with Jesus play in your actions? As I said, my response of anger and frustration was slightly justified but still wrong, and I admit my own guilt, taking stumbling steps on my own walk of faith.

When you walked past me on your way into Bolthouse, chatting away, and made full eye contact, what thoughts passed through your mind? I'm a dufus? You're a dufus? What's for lunch today? Did any of this series of choices even cross your mind, or was it over and done, no wiser for the wear because, after all, nobody got hurt and I didn't get caught?

And this one's for all of us - can we honestly say that we are faithful in the small things, and can be trusted with greater things? I know I can't - but I'm working on it...

White car dude, with the out of state license plates (geographical hint: East, way east), it's not my job to judge or even speculate. But being a fallen creature in need of redemption myself, I do wonder. And I find myself a little sad, because while I don't expect all Cornerstone students to be little angels and model citizens who live out the truth of God's Word in every aspect and corner of their lives, I do hope that they (and we) are making progress on that path, both in the big and the small things, the lesser and the greater.

Godspeed, white car dude. And at least think about backing it down a notch, 'k?

Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Way Of Minimalism

I always imagined that losing weight would mean more...

More stamina, more energy, more activity, more doing and being.

But I'm wondering if that will turn out to be wrong, and I'm actually going to end up with less, not more. Less multitasking, and more single focus. Less activities and more of myself invested in just a few things. Life moving slower, much, much slower.

Minimalism has gotten my attention lately - a movement toward less. Less things, less clutter, less purchasing, less maintaining the stuff that crowds my life, less complications, less stress. A sustainable life that doesn't depend on both of us bringing in as much income as possible to keep afloat in the raging tide called the American dream.

But minimalism isn't just about material goods. It translates into all areas of life - schedules and involvement, task lists, online connections, distractions, hobbies, pursuits, dreams, goals - all can be brought into a minimalist view of the world. Multitasking is laid aside, to gain instead an opportunity for single-focus, to pursue one thing at a time with complete clarity and purpose. The tyranny of the urgent loses its power when pressures and demands are reduced to the needful, the joyful, and the things that truly matter to your heart. When you no longer strive to be all things to all people, you have an opportunity to become a few things with clarity and joy.

Life has become slow for me, and it needs to remain that way. Living my new life requires discipline, focus, and careful maintenance. Allowing the noise and chaos that we call "life" to rule my attention could cause the work of living this new way to falter or fail. As Vicki has reminded me, my new life is my job, my occupation, and it has priority. Not just now, while it's fresh and new, but from now to always. This is how I live, this is what I do.

And minimalism fits so well into this new life. Think of everything I've cast aside already - 161 pounds, diabetes, high cholesterol, sleep apnea and CPAP, knees that won't support my weight... sounds like I'm already on the path of minimalism and didn't know it.

In December, I packed up my leather carving tools and supplies (all that would fit in the car, anyway - the rest will go in a future trip) and passed them on to my nephew. Honestly, as I put the tools in a box I had some doubts - should I keep them? Will I be sorry that I gave up leather work? Will I miss it?

Answer: nope. The leather bench has become a place to work wire, and I've done more wire bending in the last month than I had the previous 6 or so. I like leather, but I LOVE wirework, and love the jewelry pieces that come out of it. And my nephew is already working on new pieces, amazing pieces with the tools he needed to move his leather craft forward by leaps and bounds. Minimalism gave me the kick I needed to move those tools to a place where they will be used and will produce amazing work. And it gave me the space I needed to advance my own creative work.

When I first woke up in my hospital room after the surgery (yes, I've told you this story before...), about two hours after arriving in my room, and finally fully conscious, these words were the first that came to my mind...

"My chains are gone - I've been set free."

Minimalism reminds me of how many chains were holding me, and how many chains God has shattered - never to bind me again. Life is being reduced - slowly - to what really matters. As I spend this month thinking and writing, I'm taking stock of things that should stay, and things that need to go. Activities, possessions, pursuits, thoughts, outlooks, habits, perceptions - some will go, some will stay. New ones might be added, but if so, they will be added because there's space and a specific place for them.

In this year, some things that I "always" do will be done no longer. Some pursuits that I took up because they seemed good at the time will be laid aside, so that the ones that really have my heart and my focus can flourish. The priorities are shifting, the worldview is refocusing and the result will be less... and so much more.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Rethinking My World

Everything needs to have its own place. So, when you run out of places, the rest has to go. Organization 101, right? Basic, simple, no-brainer.

Unless one is not talking about clutter around the house. What if the clutter is mental? Since our minds are (supposedly) infinite, does that mean that everything can stay? Everything has a place, so it all stays, right?

Hence my confusion.

I'm taking the month of January off to do some thinking and some writing. Pretty much everything else is off the schedule for the month. Ok - showers are still in the mix, as are most personal hygiene matters. Eating, taking my medicines and supplements, doing the stuff necessary to keep my new life going - those are still on the docket. Hugging my honey, playing with our dog, spending time with friends... check.

So what's OFF the schedule? Hmmm... Oh yeah... Playing - as in music. No gigs, not even Worship Team at church. Expectations for output are off the list - trying to justify my existence each day by the things I get done or produce. It's alright (for this month) to have a day go by where nothing tangible actually took place. A day of knitting? Fine. Spending time bending wire at my workbench? Peachy. Sitting at Schuler's, jotting down ideas without producing a single "piece?" Dandy. Lamenting at the end of the day that I didn't accomplish anything? *BZZZT* Wrong answer.

Why? Good question.

It's been 9 months since the surgery when my old life passed away and everything became new. As of this writing, I've lost 163 pounds - from 414 to 251. When (and if) I hit 240, I will be precisely half what I was in January of 2009 - 480. I've been over 400 pounds for longer than I can remember... in fact, the last time I was at my present weight was in high school. (And really, who can remember what life was like 30-some years ago? Pretty much a blur from here...)

I've said before that this journey has been so much harder mentally than physically - the changes in the body have come fast and hard, but the mental changes? Slow, slow, s-l-o-w. They've also required more active work and direction than I would have expected - times of having to literally talk to myself to help in re-wiring my mind - "use both feet on the stairs" ; "you can stand for more than 2 minutes" ; "get up and do it yourself - you're fully capable." This sort of self-talk has been so necessary to help my mind catch up with my body.

You might think that someone who's been on this journey would be like a wild bird or animal who was injured, taken in to heal, then brought back out the wild and released. The cage door opens, the animal bounds out and we get a scenic wide shot of their joyful charge into freedom.

Not so, grasshopper.

This animal, when shown the open door, stands and looks outside, wonders at the changes before him...

and stops, frozen. Intimidated, he finds himself incapable of movement. Overwhelmed, he has no idea what to do next. Withdrawing into a safe, familiar place, he sits down inside the cage, looking at the open door, unable to understand what it means or even how to move through it. The body is healed, but the mind is disoriented. And so he sits, trying to see a path through the chaos and come to grips with what has happened.

January, then, is when this animal tries to puzzle through what this all means.

I've taken some huge steps - I walk instead of using the wheelchair, I stand and talk to friends rather than needing to find a seat, I walk to the bus stop and take a city bus without wondering if I can do such a thing, I'm taking a Tai Chi class, which has me standing for a whole hour (and I LOVE it!), I run errands and do things that Vicki would have had to take care of before.

And it tickles me to no end when someone apologizes because they didn't recognize me. Of course they don't - that was 163 pounds ago!

My recliner is gone. The piece of furniture that was my world for 6-8 hours a day, my oasis in painful times, my safe place, is gone. Not easily, not without some regret and sense of loss, but it is gone. To re-wire my mind around wasn't working, because it was so attached to my old life. So rather than working around it, I let it go.

The steps have been huge, brave, wonderful. I do things without thinking that I would never ever have attempted before. Go to a Tai Chi class without Vicki for support? No. Return an item to the store and stand in line at the service desk? No. Look at a list of errands on the board, make note of them, and finish them ALL in one day? Not likely. Yet that's what I do, regularly.

It took a long time to recognize myself in new pictures. I looked at this person and felt like I was looking at a stranger. I remember seeing some pictures Vicki took when I lead a church hymnsing back in September, and it was almost painful to look at them. The face, the proportions, all of it unfamiliar. I knew the older pictures were no longer what I looked like, but the new ones? Not sure - certainly not someone I would identify as "me."

I found it really significant that, maybe a month ago, I needed to take some of the older pictures of me off of my screen saver. (I have a Mac screen saver that drops pictures one at a time onto a black screen. With 2 monitors, it does it on both screens. Cracks Vicki up when both screens have a picture of the same person (or dog) falling down at the same time.) Those pictures began to bother me - I no longer recognized that man as me, but rather as someone who was so sad, feeling so powerless and sick. I realized that the face I wear now, this is the the one I recognize - this is where I live.

So it's time to put things in their place. Accepting new things that are part of this new life, and putting others out with the garbage, to be taken away forever. And sorting through the mental connections that want to keep the old things, not realizing that the new things are far better and worth making room for. It's Extreme Home Makeover and Clean Sweep and Hoarders and Intervention all rolled into one chaotic show.

And you, dear reader, get to watch. Yet another reason to really despise reality shows.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

The State Of The Olson

When in the course of human events, it becomes necessary...

Wait... that sounds a little familiar. Let me try again.

We the people, in order to form a more perfect union...


Knowing this, that the testing of your faith worketh patience...

Better, but still plagiarism.

Lemmie 'splain. No - 's too long. Lemmie sum up.


It's been MONTHS since I've taken the time to write. Which means that absolutely nothing has been happening, right? I would have written if there was stuff going on, right?

Yeah. Right.

No, as is the case with so many of us, life rears its ugly head (or appearance-challenged head, if that's more PC) and we get lost in the grind. The tragedy is, that sometimes the stuff that gets lost is MUCH more important than anything we find in "the grind," but "the grind" has a LOUD voice and DEMANDS our attention and WILL NOT TAKE NO FOR AN ANSWER!!!!!!

Yikes-a-roni... Makes you want to take the batteries out of the ol' Belltone and pass into blissful silence.

So, I says to meself, Self, I says, we gots to get things straightened out. (And yes, for the record, I do have these sort of conversations with myself. And yes, they do often involve character voices and other eccentricities. That's how I roll. I'm pretty sure that if I didn't give my kindergarten teacher a nervous breakdown, I at least persuaded her that teaching wasn't really her calling. It's a service I provide for free.)

(bonus points if you have any clue where I adapted that last sentence from)

So, since the threads of the last 6 months or so are pretty twisted and confused, we're going to use the method taught to me by my beloved: when the yarn is knotted, pull one thread at a time. Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, pets of all ages, we begin...

The State Of The Olson Address (100% Congress free! No Ads! No Standing O's! No Partisanship! Ok... maybe a little...)

1) The Weight Of The Union

Since the surgery March 30th, I've lost 161 pounds (and falling). For those of you who love statistics, you're out of luck. I have NO head for that kind of poopy. But a few facts? Lemmie try these:

Total weight down from 414 lbs to present weight of 253. Granted, that was a week or so ago, so the might be gone by now. From January 2009, I've gone from 480 lbs to 253.

Shirt size: from 5XL (or 6XL) to XL. Even some L, for wearing under other garments. Dress shirts - 22 neck down to 18.5.

Pants: from a 58 waist (in stretch jeans - 60 or 62 in dress pants) to the pair of 46 waist jeans (NON-stretch, VERY non-stretch) I'm wearing right now.

What I didn't expect: my hat size is changing. The 2XL hats I have are a little big on me. Evidently the kid that called me a fathead in school wasn't kidding...

2) The Health Of The Union

Diabetic meds: GONE. If I weren't already diagnosed as a diabetic, I wouldn't be classified as one today. Technically, I'm a diabetic controlled by diet. No complications from it, nothing lingering. As if it never was.

Sleep Apnea: When I was first diagnosed, my episode rate (the number of times I stop breathing in my sleep per hour) was 126. You read that right - I stopped breathing about every 30 seconds. As of the most recent sleep study, the episode rate is 30. Yow. My pressure level for the CPAP machine is down from 14 to 7. I can actually sleep without the mask sometimes. Not the best thing, but it can be done.

Which begs the question: will I ever be rid of the CPAP? Probably not. My airway is very small and constricted - they have a tough time getting a breathing tube into me for surgery. My tonsils were taken out in 3rd grade, just to provide more room for me to breathe and swallow. And, I snore at decibel levels approaching a chainsaw. So, CPAP probably stays, but with a lot less pressure.

Addendum: I originally started writing this October 27th. Shows how much I know... As of a follow-up appointment November 19th, guess what? We discovered in my last study that if I sleep on my side, I don't have ANY episodes. So now I'll be spending 30 nights with a "trainer" - a rig involving a piece of PVC pipe and a tennis ball - to teach me not to roll over on my back. A solid month of training, and using it once or twice a week to remind myself, and Cal doesn't need the CPAP. Never EVER thought I'd see that...

High Blood Pressure: not changing. This one looks like it's more of a hereditary thing than a weight-related one. But I'm responding well to the meds, so we should be able to stay on top of it.

3) The Movin' Of The Union

I haven't really blogged about this, but my Facebook peeps have heard more than they probably want to about my trike...

In mid-June, I got Rover, and life got good. OK - life always was and always is good. It just got a little gooder.

Rover is the newest model from the amazing folks at TerraTrike (, with a higher weight capacity (400 lbs, which I was just below when I got it in June) and a seat that's folding chair height (unlike Vicki's trike, where the seat is about 13" off the ground).

To say that Rover has changed my life is a colossal understatement. Pre-Rover: 3 miles at Riverside Park? *sigh* Maybe someday. Post-Rover: 3 miles? That's just a warmup. Now 10 miles? 12? 14? That's what I'm talkin' about! Ride 4 miles to church for a rehearsal? Sure! 7 miles round trip to WCSG to track and home again? Heck yeah! Home to Walgreen's and back? Yuppers. In fact, I find myself looking at routes to places that I usually drive to get to and wondering, "how could I get there via trike?" We might look into a two wheel "regular" bike (a "wedgie" bike) for me - one I could put on the bike rack of a city bus. That would open up a LOT of options...

There's still a couple of milestones to go before the snow files: a trip out the pier at Grand Haven for some sunset photos, and a trip to Chicago to ride along the lakeshore. Hopefully those will both happen.

Addendum: they didn't. That's alright - training this winter will leave me hungry for spring and ready to ride.

It's a known fact that in order to overcome an addiction, one must find a replacement behavior. Riding has become my replacement for food, and has given me one of the best summers I can remember. And fall has been pretty sweet too. Which brings up the question, what am I going to do when the snow piles up? We'll talk about that in a bit.

4) The Mind Of The Union

When you become a candidate for bariatric surgery, one of the things you are told is that the mental adjustments post-surgery are huge. But no one can give you specifics, since everyone adjusts in a different way. Attitudes change, passions shift, relationships can suffer or collapse - anything can happen.

So you know it's coming, but you have no idea what it will look like when it gets here.

9 months down the road, I now have some idea of what it looks like, and I can honestly say that the mental adjustments are way WAY more demanding than the physical adjustments. The physical, while complex, is almost automatic... Live within the restraints of your new system. Obey the signs your body gives you. Use the rules to keep you comfortable, nourished, and healthy. Do these and live. A lot to learn and live, but pretty black and white, especially if you just listen to what your new system is telling you. The point where it hits the air circulation device is when you ignore your body and just have at it, resulting in (at best) discomfort and (at worst) "complications." (want details? No, you don't.)

Oh, and saddle up for a fast ride. The physical changes come on fast and hard - faster than you thought possible and sometimes harder than you think you can endure.

The mental adjustments, on the other hand, are NOT black and white. They are NOT obedient to rules and predictable. They are NOT a matter of just listening and responding. And while the physical changes are fast, the mental changes are S-L-O-W. Very, very, v-e-r-y slow. I've written a little about this, and will continue to do so, because I'm still figuring out everything that goes along with it. But the latin phrase Tabula Rasa sums it up so well - "blank slate." Everything changes to some degree, and the only thing you can count on is that everything changes.

So, counseling continues, and it should. The changes are so massive that outside help and insight is essential. Potential surgery candidates: you CANNOT do this alone. You must have the help and support of others, lest you get lost in the swirling whiteout conditions in your own mind.

Insight from others at this stage will shine light on the dark path. It will give you a litmus test to help separate truth from lies. Without those external voices, everything has equal weight and equal validity in the chaos that is your mind. God's word, the ultimate source of truth, will light your path as it always does, but in the chaos you might not be able to hear it. The help of trusted friends and loved ones (and professionals) to speak truth over you is so important when you can't hear or distinguish that truth for yourself.

Am I a basket case right now? Some days, yes. Most days, no... a little.

There will come a time when I will write and tell you of the bravest, most loving and caring person I know - my beloved Vicki. But for this moment, let me just say that every time you encourage me in this walk, every time you tell me that I'm inspiring you, that I'm having such great success, that I'm doing such good work, believe me - it's Vicki who is doing the hard work, Vicki who is walking the path, and Vicki who is so excited to see her hubby zip up the XL down vest and have it fit. She walks with me, and NONE of this would have happened without her.

As I said, I started writing this October 27th, and it's sat on the ol' iPad since then. Today is January 5th, 2011, and while most of this is still true, some has changed. I made some corrections and some notes where appropriate, and am kind of amazed at how the path changes, even over a couple of months. Good to know that God goes ahead of us down the path, and that He knows every twist and turn better than the most super luxo GPS ever produced. Unlike "Susan," (it's easier to call our GPS by name, than just "the box") God not only guides but takes an active part in our path, clearing the way before us or throwing up roadblocks when necessary.

The state of the Olson? A state of wonder, amazement, confusion and humility that God should pour out blessings to someone so unworthy. His love endures forever, His mercies are new every morning, and His faithfulness continues to all generations.