Choices Matter.

Growing up, I would to worry about my eldest brother, when he deployed while in the Marines, first to Vietnam and many places further a field. When my brother’s sons aged into men, my concerns included his eldest son, who followed in his father’s foot steps and my second cousin, Vinnie Paul, also joining in the family legacy of Marines.

Everywhere, I looked and went time seemingly expanded to include my ever-growing and consuming concern for friends from ccollege. Men and women, who were serving their ROTC commitment from Penn State at a time which started this nightmare of aggression for my generation in mid 1990’s.

I remember being newly married, freshly relocated from Pennsylvania to North Western Indiana watching the first Gulf War, Desert Storm explode…I remember the troops who died in the terrorism barracks explosion. Those kids were from my neck of the woods in Pennsylvania, one was an acquaintance/classmate from college.
I watched in horror as I realized my newly enlisted 18-year-old nephew was going to be part of this event. A job he loved as like his Dad.

Then the day before my child’s 3rd birthday, I was nearly 9 months pregnant watching those planes hit the towers, staring in horror as more terror unfolded on the news. Hearing another plane went done in Somerset, PA not far from my husband’s neck of the woods. Wondering where my eldest retired Marine brother now a government employee was in his flight intenary for travels at that moment in time. Frantic calls between sister to my sister-in-law.

I remember hearing within days my eldest nephew, that Marine mentioned, was deploying with the 26 MEU within days of 9/11 renewed start of terrorism.
I remember being stressed as those victims names were released from the multiple terrorism events of 9/11. Early labor was no longer able to be held off. Hello, Nathanael, welcome to this world.

I remember the world was never the same for my generation as like my Mother’s generation of WWll, or for my 4 eldest brothers’ generation of Vietnam. The Vietnam war affected most the eldest and second brothers who were in the Marines and Army respectively. The eldest made a career in the Marines, early career spent tours in Vietnam.
The second did not remain in the service and made a civilian life suited to him. We will just skip rehashing the demonstrations, protests, etc…the shame of Americans disrespecting servicemen and women from that event.

I remember telling my best friend, the reality tv trash out of Hollywood is undermining our culture. I remember thinking those who were valued were living lives of questionable action but were being held in high regard. Directing political consciousness, an irony to me as they made money from questionable films, sitcoms, etc.
Suddenly, media said, we couldn’t this or that in our homes with how we raised our children without facing shame and sanctions from Parenting magazines perpetuated by the development of those soon to become “the helicopter Moms” preaching a new kind of rearing.

Schools could no longer expect the parents to step up when Johnny and Suzy were brats, bullies or classroom terrors. Parent’s are raising feel good at all times, everyone’s a winner and gets a trophy kids; because goodness gracious, why should Johnny or Suzy feel disappointment and learn to adapt and adjust accordingly.
Suddenly, classroom time was being devoted to raising those kids, disciplining those kids or putting concessions in place to balance the scales so their behaviors were tolerated at the expense of curriculum.
Not surprisingly, Mrs Johnny’s mom doesn’t understand why her son isn’t making a certain grade…it must be that teacher’s fault. Oh, hello.

Hello, Helicopter parents. Hello discipline issues. Hello dumbing down a another generation because no one wants to step and stop the insanity.
So, I remember as a school volunteer wasting my time catching little Johnny’s on the playground and redirecting HIS bad behavior with no repercussions laid. All this and a recent few past generations of parents tied the hands of educators, police and I remember thinking: I am afraid for my sons’ future. Schools are getting soft on discipline because of stupid feel good laws and rules brought about by my generation’s of peer equal parents’ questionable ideals. (I am not the age of my typical peer parent. I am much older.)

I remember thinking this country is going backwards because those in this current generation, who they revere are those dictating political correctness. Masses of people are following those who have an agenda to look good for movies, plays, sports contracts, sitcoms and advertisers but they don’t live the life they preach?! Are they truly living a life of a hard, admirable work ethic with unimpeachable values? And those who do? They are being held in contemptuous scorn by trash digging media and society.  Media outlets seeking to undermine and discredit their values because it doesn’t fit the agenda of terror and civil unrest which is news worthy. It doesn’t fit in the platform for politicians to advance their agendas. Both of these perpetrators of “truth” have an agenda, funded by their supporters or advertisers with their agendas for financial gain.

A new domestic terror of our own making. I remember it spiraling out of control, spreading to our neighbors, schools, churches, social groups, just spreading like a disease. No one really gets how insidious it really has become and no one can tell you where it started and how?! Really?

I challenge you. Go backwards to your parents, or further to your grandparents, in my case, my mother is equal in age to my current parenting peers’ grandparents generation. Remember their values think about those rules, the freedom without media perpetuating fears, the constant stimulation from on demand information guiding your thoughts, controlling your reactions and changing your behaviors.

Think about the freedoms from worry, think about the accountability, think about the truth of where we are now in family relationships to where “we were” then. Think how far off course, we have become in this path we all walk now….think about those men and women who advocated change with dignity and respect. Many paid the price with their lives and the world was still a place of wrongs needing righted but the wrongs need accountability not mass hysteria.

Stop listening to media, movie stars, leaders of agendas INSTEAD listen to your church, the kind neighbor, the parents of children worth emulating, grandparents with lives of regard. Stop the segregationist in their agenda by separating us and them by color, religion, race, ethnicity or groups…it comes down to you to stop the insanity.

Everyone matters. CHOICE MATTERS in conscious decision-making, be the author of your own ideas, THINKING FOR YOURSELF MATTERS. Exercise respectful actions, CHOOSING to think, react, and execute actions for each and all is the only thing which MATTERS in stopping a runaway freight train of disregard.


Joanne Roth Marino

Saboteurs, bullies and weight loss: Mean girls

I am not surprised by women’s abilities to be saboteurs. Many have not matured since their glory days in middle school, high school, or college. They have not learned life’s lessons, not one iota.

Bullying? What? Saboteurs? Who? Undermining others? How?

Yes. Some women are still bullying, undermining and sabotaging others, mainly other women.

Let’s identify the easiest of these women, the bully sabotaging person:

The co-worker, the family member, the lunch buddy, the casual acquaintance, the cousin, the friend or the lady at church, those within your everyday environment, who feel justified in pulling you aside and remarking on your personal changes.

Most of these socially encountered types will offer comments in a passive aggressive manner that leaves you wondering or standing there stupefied by their audacious behavior.

We’ve all been there….”Oh that dress is lovely. I’m not sure I could pull off a look like that.”

“You overslept this morning. I see you didn’t have time for make up. You look a little washed out.” (No, really I’m not. I choose not to put on makeup to come down here to pull weeds at the community garden. I’m strange that way, dressing for the job.)

“Is this a new look?
It’s such a trendy haircut. Your other haircut was so much better for your age but this looks good for something different. It helps make you look fresher.”
(I didn’t realize I had a best by date on my forehead.)

“You’re looking run down, is this project more than you can handle?” (No, really I’m not. I choose not to overtax myself micromanaging the team of women, but hey, if, you want to run the show, have at it. )

“Are you trying to fit in with younger Moms?” (Oh heck, No! You couldn’t pay me to go backwards and surrender all this accumulated knowledge, no, thank you.)

You’re going to make me look fat.” (Let’s fix that now, go stand over there.)

“You need a good steak, girl.” (Well, don’t we all need a good tasting meal?)

“Have a little cheesecake, come on, you know you want to” OR while at a table filled with guests, “What’s the matter with my cooking, oh, now that your dieting, you need to watch the calories. Oh, I am so sorry, I would have made a salad.” (Yep, Aunt Grace isn’t a fan of portion control and “hell hath no fury” like an unused plate surface in an Italian household. This is an insult of the highest kind.)

“Are you trying to get in shape to look younger now that you’re getting older?”
(No. I’m trying to get back to healthy because my annual blood report was starting to look as scary like that girl in the mirror.)

My favorite most astonishing comment to date, offered in a seemingly commiserating hushed whisper:
“Wow, you’ve lost a lot of weight. Is it THE CANCER? Noooo!? Ohhhhh, GOOD, I’m glad, I didn’t miss praying, if you needed me.”
Me: Both my eyebrows winged to the heavens, a drooped mouth omitted a disbelieving choke of shock followed by a chuckle of relief, that thankfully, she stopped talking. After gathering my senses, I was able to say: “Thank heavens, I’m glad you missed the opportunity.” (Geesh, with well-meaning folks like her, who needs enemies?)

Dear “Well-meaning Ladies“,

My weight loss is not a fast, or medically induced arrival, fad diet, power shakes or promotional weight loss gimmick, or middle life crisis. It is a lifestyle choice. MY lifestyle choice. I never gave you or anyone else a thought when I ventured to correct my poor choices so I could improve my health. Nope. Not one thought. I didn’t even post a picture on line via social media for support.

I am presently, no less than I weighed 8 years ago, a number well within the CDCP, guidelines for height, frame and age. I was actually never over the highest range, but I was very, very close. I didn’t like it at all. I didn’t feel well physically or emotionally.

I didn’t strive for a dress size to annoy you for bragging rights. I didn’t go get stylish new clothes to impress you. Nope. I did not. I went upstairs into my attic pulling down those clothes which I tucked away many years ago. I impressed myself.

I danced my little happy dance of joy.  Yes, I DID!

Thank God, NO ONE but Dominick saw that!  I never once thought of you, as I figuratively high 5’d myself. No. Not. At. All.  I did not run outside to strike a pose and snap a selfie. I did not upload to twitter,  Facebook or Instagram, my proud moment of look at me.

I did shriek internally with joy when my annual physical presented improved blood work results. I am healthier because I lost weight. I sleep more soundly because I exercise. I impressed myself by building stamina through walking without inducing an asthma attack or triggering high pulse rates.
I did not once think, “Oh hey, she’s going to notice I hack/wheeze a lot less when I quickly walk uphill.” Nope. Because I am not convinced I matter all that much to anyone but those who matter to me. Yep. I did not think to include you in my journey.

The dietitian in my insurance provider’s workshop, advised not to explain my goals.
Historically, they’ve found others will be supportive and most will not, there by derailing you from achieving your fitness.  In retrospect, this was apt advice. I’ve encountered the unsolicited concern, overtly snide remarks, platitudes and passive aggressive compliments.

The “helpful friend” who wants every waiter to know, I am dieting because I’m not eating as I once consumed. But stick close because she’s gonna indulge in dessert. (Yes, indeed,  I am. Because I choose wisely and I choose not to put unlimited useless calories in my body wasting precious stomach “real estate”.)

I had a “concerned friend” point out “A lady OF my age (49) doesn’t look good as a rail thin as a teenager.”
Ummm, excuse me, even when I was a teenager, I didn’t think I looked good as a rail thin teenager. So, no. I wasn’t enamoured of the wasted waif look.

No one was happier than me to gain pregnancy weight and keep a pound or two. I WAS always “rail thin” until 32. I’ve got the wedding pictures at 24 to cringe over. Now, I’m going for healthy and happy.

I’ve experienced the “lunch buddy’s” shocked tone and scrunched up face, followed with outraged snip, “Is that ALL your going to eat? Ohhhhhh. Well, now that you lost the fat, I guess you can eat normally, within reason.”
(Yep, you knew the snipe was coming out of her mouth.)

I’ve had the “casual volunteer acquaintance,” ask me, “Do you THINK you LOOK good………… thin? You should know, at some point you need to stop or you’ll need a doctor because too thin isn’t healthy.”

A quietly said, “You’ve lost your curves…was that smart?” Complete with grandiose gestures to the chest. “You do want men to notice your smart figure?  Don’t you?” Nope.

Never knew I carried my brains in my bra. GOD knows if that were the case, I would be simple-minded, right? The correlation being size equals intelligence? If sizes were the markers of “smart” than thank God, the good Lord gave me hips and a bottom for carrying my big brain for so long, since my “brain” was so small.  Now, I’ll just buy a big purse and shove them inside….makes about the same sense as the other. Nope. Nada. None.  Absolutely, no sense at all. Smart?!!? Good Lord, folks.

Just, wow. I’m so very glad my husband, my sons and a very few select friends were part of my support group.  Otherwise, I would still be in the “smart category, with big numbers, health-wise,” pleasing those so-called caring, well-meaning friends, who think a preconceived size equals healthy and strong.

And, those who really don’t care at all, except for looking better than you, at all times.

Fat, thin, slightly overweight or out of shape people are not indicators of strong, healthy bodies and minds. Good choices, healthy mindset, aka… feeding your emotional needs, in tune with your body’s natural hunger levels, combined with fit lifestyles for strength to carry the aging process through the years are markers of good health. Science, not tailored advertising, should dictate sound nutrition. Coupled with supportive networks will take anyone further than the latest fad, gimmick or gym.

It’s NOT a dress size, it is not a predetermined amount of food, a plate size or starving.

Nope. Not once did I do it for you concerned, everyday acquaintance. I did not do it for your compliments or attention. I did it in spite of the voice of society’s ideals. I did it for me. I matter to me and my guys. I don’t care if you understand or agree. I/Our family choose to embrace changing my/our choices and living well. It is a slow process to unlearn poor choices and choose to go forward in a new direction.

My family is supportive of our family becoming healthier people.  It’s a choice of lifestyle, what we can control, it’s emotional and physical, large or small efforts, one smile of encouragement at a time with subtle adjustments that became our new normal.

Now you have my facts, YOU can continue on with your “caring efforts & vast health knowledge” with someone else.

I. AM. OK.

In hindsight “your truthful wisdom” has made me laugh, it feeds my emotional need for humor. EVERYONE knows laughter is good for the soul and body. You are feeding my soul with laughter NOT harming myself esteem with your inane comments.

I like being “Naturally Slim” as like I was naturally back then, when I was younger. The difference now: I’m not ashamed to be slim, I’m proud of myself physically and emotionally. It was a whole health effort in every aspect of my body and mind. I am prepared to live my choice and understand why you cannot. Someone’s insecurities cannot and will not undermine mine because this slimming down taught me skills and gave me choices. Connected together how those choices effect all areas of a person.