Wednesday, March 28, 2012

For Sheldon and Davy

I'm not sure how many years it will take before I stop considering March 28th an anniversary of sorts. I didn't buy a card and we aren't going out to dinner, but I'm remembering it just the same.

The tree stump.

The book.

The ring.

THE question.

After just four months of dating, D asked me to marry him.

"A Severe Mercy" has been an important book in our story. I read about David before I actually met him. Talk about a first impression. When D mentioned this book on his eharmony profile, I knew there had to be something unique and special about this man.
That hunch was correct.

"A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as "the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers." Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful love born out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share." -Jacque Holthusen

It was only fitting that the story of Sheldon and Davy be present at our engagement and that their words had a place in our ceremony. If you haven't read the book before, may I suggest you add it to the list this year? It's one of the most beautiful love stories I've ever read.
  • "She knew without my saying that I was hers, that I was full of happiness that we were deeply together… wherever the road led. And I knew without her saying that she had, somehow, come to a new understanding that God in His ample love embraced our love with, it may be, a sort of tenderness, and we must tread the Way to Him hand in hand. We understood without words that we must hold the co-inherence of lovers and be Companions of the Co-inherence of the Incarnate Lord: she in me and I in her; Christ in us and we in Him.” - A Severe Mercy

Dear Sheldon and Davy...

Happy March 28th.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012


You know, I could use this space to talk about the overwhelming response I received from my last blog post. (I will say: y'all are awesome and I am still BLOWN AWAY by... everything. Thank you.)

Or I could talk about how Ginger has been in Israel for what seems like SO LOOOOONG and how glad I am to have her finally back in gchat and cell phone range.

I could talk about how EXCITED I AM FOR SPRING: warm weather, flip flops, softball games, fun trips, sunshine, and just... everything. I'm excited.

BUT. Let's talk about what's really important here.

People: I SAW JIMMY FALLON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I mean, Jimmy Fallon, y'all. My FAVORITE celebrity-type person. He was HERE. In TEXAS. And I saw him. If you know me? You know this is pretty HUGE.

Basically: I was in Austin for SXSW Interactive (the far nerdier/geekier sister of SXSW Film or Music) last week. And I found out on Sunday that THE Jimmy Fallon would be moderating a panel. That very day.

My reaction: say "WHAT" about 20 times (no exaggeration) and then do everything in my power to get to said panel.

And I was. IN THE FOURTH ROW. Where I grinned and giggled my way through the presentation, and took (again, no exaggeration) 56 pictures and videos.

I mean, I was basically the Zeppelin kid from "Almost Famous."

They're here. Zeppelin are here. They are here.

Sigh. Jimmy FALLON was here.

And I saw him.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Pinch Me

I don't know if I can put into words what I'm feeling and processing today. So many people that I love are working through disappointments. They had dreamed and hoped and then... it didn't happen. Heartbreak.

Have you seen the Joseph Kony video that's been shared millions of times this week? Watching the shares and even the controversy surrounding the social media frenzy has taken me back to a time of my own heartbreak. In May of 2008 I applied to be an intern with Invisible Children. I was absolutely convinced that I would be accepted and moving to Uganda. I had asked for a leave of absence at work. I put every inch of me into believing that I would move to Uganda in the fall. I read books, memorized facts, took classes, and even moved my stuff into storage- all the while 100% believing and trusting that God was going to have me to to Uganda. The DAY AFTER I moved my stuff into storage I got the "no" letter. I wrote this blog post in July of 2008 while I was still reeling.

I have known the disappointment that comes when you feel like you are living and walking in God's will... only to have everything you are sure of break apart.

I'll be honest, the rest of 2008 was challenging. I struggled. But I learned so much through the experience about myself and about My God. He didn't say "no" to punish or confuse me. I had been asking Him to guide my steps... and He did.

Rejection is hard, especially when you feel like you were acting in faith. "But in faith Abraham left everything – his home and family – and went to the land the Lord would slowly grant him."

Abram [Abraham] who did not always wait, obey, or trust - is chosen to have more descendants than the sands in the sea. This man from Ur was selected out of everyone on the planet of that time to receive THE PROMISE. So why Abram?

Genesis 12:4 suggests an initial answer: "So Abram left." Perhaps one answer is simply, "Because he'd go." (Beth Moore)

Uganda with Invisible Children in the fall of 2008 is not the land for me. Perhaps Uganda or Africa one day...but maybe not. Part of this process was learning just to be willing to go wherever or whenever He leads. I had money saved, my bags packed, and I was ready for His call. Maybe He was just asking me if I was ready.

Whether I'm overseas or right here on my quiet street, I know I'm aiming to follow.

"But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who believe and are saved." Hebrews 10:39

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

The Reveal

It was never my desire to become a living Cathy comic. So I never mentioned this before. And this is hard for me to bring up so... publicly. I seriously have SO much apprehension about sharing this.

But you know what? I'm just gonna go there.

Hi, my name is Valerie. And I lost 50 pounds.



So... what now?

I suppose that, in the words of Wadsworth, "I'm going to tell you how it was all done. Follow me."

Well. The movie montage of the past year would be a lot of shots of me getting out of bed early, leaving the house makeupless and tennis shoed up and heading downstairs to drive the three minutes to my local gym. It's true, little bloggingtons. Nearly every morning I have started my day off by conquering the elliptical machine, the treadmill, the stationary bike, and/or some free weights. Throw in a mix of jump roping, planking, lunges, and other miscellaneous morning exercises and there you go. You would also be treated to clips of Zumba class, runs/walks through the park accompanied by Wait Wait Don't Tell Me and/or the likes of Kelly, Beyonce, Avril, and Michael Giaccino. Perhaps most importantly you would see shots of me on the computer logging nearly EVERYTHING I'VE EATEN for the past 12 months YES EVEN WHILE I WAS IN NEW YORK CITY.

Sometimes you will hear people say something to the effect of their weight just "falling off." "I stopped drinking soda and the weight just started to fall off!" "I started walking in tiny circles around my arm chair and the weight just fell off!" "I high fived a beluga whale and WONDER OF WONDERS THE WEIGHT JUST MAGICALLY FELL OFF AND NOW I RIDE A UNICORN TO THE OFFICE."

Well, I don't know these people or why they feel the need to lie. Because there isn't, there won't ever be, and there never was anything even remotely CLOSE to the phrase "the weight just fell off me" involved in this. So, lies and dream fantasy phrases like that one, BE GONE! You are not welcome here. Because I got up early, and sweated, and got sore, and turned down ice cream, and drank DIET COKE WITH DIET CHERRY FROM SONIC, LIKE, WHAT IS THAT EVEN!!!!!!!

There is no "falling off." I cannot stress that enough. Even though it's a popular phrase and people even assigned that phrase to ME once or twice (pa-shaw), it's absolutely not true. There is NO "falling off." There is only stretching, and running, and looking silly in Zumba class, and declining the brownies, and setting out your workout clothes the night before, and getting on the elliptical AGAIN, and keeping a nectarine in the fridge at work, and washing out the blender blades and making a breakfast smoothie THE NIGHT BEFORE. There is only gathering up the courage to call the gym for an appointment with a personal trainer and getting up early on Saturday morning to meet "Joel" and talk to him about "goals," and looking like an idiot while he teaches you "burpees" (aka OF THE DEVIL). There is only watching people drink soda and eat burgers and fries while you eat chicken yet again, and looking silly at the gym trying out machines you haven't used before, and pushing yourself in the park to run to the next bridge then the next then the next one more one more one more. There is only telling yourself that a piece of pineapple is a treat, and sweating your FACE off because it's SUMMER HELLOOOO WHY ARE YOU AT THE PARK, and looking up nutritional information for a restaurant before you go and picking out what you're going to eat ahead of time, and coming so far but still feeling like you have SO far to go. And all of the above again and again and again and AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN. (And again.)


Despite the fact that, yes, I moved the scale downwards by 50 pounds in about a year, the numbers did not, by any means, go consistently down. The graph showing my progress is not a straight line going from the top left corner down to the bottom right. And that's what can be really frustrating about the process: the inconsistency of results. I could intake the same (small) number of calories and put the same time in at the gym this week that I did last week, and while last week I magically lost 3 pounds, this week I could lose just zero. Or add one back. Or have multiple weeks of discipline with NO RESULTS AT ALL SO PLEASE SOMEONE THROW THIS SCALE OUT THE FRAKKIN WINDOW BECAUSE WHAT EXACTLY IS YOUR PROBLEM, SCALE?!? It happens. Sometimes I just had to laugh, like the time the scale hadn't budged for two entire weeks, only to fall a pound the day after I ate McDonald's for lunch. EXPLAIN YOURSELF, SCIENCE! Okay but seriously, just to drive the point home: just because you kill yourself in the gym and eat only, I don't know, barley and tepid glacier water, doesn't mean you're going to make a significant weight difference. I don't know why that happens, but it happens.

I know that before I started this particular "journey," anytime I heard about someone who lost weight, I'd want to know how they did it, always hoping the answer was something other than "exercise and a lower calorie intake." GUESS WHAT: that's always it. Always always always. So the short answer for "How did you do it?" is that simple: I exercised. And I didn't eat a lot of crap.

Of course there's a little more to it, and I think that the other thing you'll always hear people talk about is the importance of doing what's right for YOU. Because boot camp and vegan diets aren't for everyone, and they're certainly not for me. So really you just have to figure out what's going to work for you. And what worked for me was an exercise cocktail of aerobic workouts and Zumba and long runs in the park and a few mornings a week of the circuit that Trainer Joel put together for me. And it was a random food mix of eggs, microwave dinners, smoothies, fiber bars, pineapples, salads, and the occasional burger or cup of 85% diet coke, 15% real coke, because oh come ON. But above all, credit goes to calorie counting, because without that... it's just SO hard to know! I could think a salad I ordered off the menu is the healthiest possible lunch I could get, only to check the calories later and PEOPLE THIS IS RIDICULOUS, 900 CALORIES!? IN A SALAD?! THAT'S JUST WRONG. But yes, there will be times when you find yourself pouring over the nutritional information of a WENDY'S so you can go and not be blind-sided by a 700 CALORIE CHICKEN SANDWICH. (Yes, that is a thing that exists.)

So that was it for me: counting calories. Not everything works for everyone, obviously, and this just happened to work for me. When I discovered, I got down to business. Having a daily measurably goal was huge for me, because it took the guesswork out of it, and I had numbers to shoot for every day. Every day! The calorie count is what I would come away with as being the most important piece of this puzzle, outside of the desire to finally just DO it, and also a really fabulous workout outfit, because well. You never know.

There is one other supremely important thing that absolutely must be mentioned here: I would not have lost a single ounce of anything if that had been outside of God's will. And I am not saying that I prayed to sweet baby Jesus if I could pretty please just lose some weight and then poof it happened. Because Lord have mercy, but that is not a thing. Instead, my living, caring, ACTIVE God gifted me with strength, determination, and enough of a sense of humor to make it out of Zumba class undiscouraged. He gave me all of the tools I need to complete the monumental task before me. The tenacity, the support, the drive, the fire, and the WHAT IS UP attitude that is sometimes necessary to defeat long and arduous tasks like this one. No one could have prepared me like He did, could have purposefully planned out my story the way He did. I am thankful for His grace, for His mercy, and for creating all of the many wonderful musicians who would one day come together to make up my workout playlist. I mean--He knows what He's doing, y'all.


And now, I MUST say: thank you to my mom, my BIGGEST cheerleader, who was treated to nearly every step and milestone along the way, cheering me on no matter how small my accomplishments. Thanks to my dad and sister for always encouraging me and motivating me to continue on with this in a very non-pushy and sweet way. Thanks to cousin Shanni, who promised me a trip to Nordstrom's for a treat if I kept at it (and delivered HUGELY). Thanks to Andrea, who gave up an afternoon to take these "After" pictures for me. Thanks to Javier, Not Mindy Riggins, and all of the other Zumba instructors who pushed me one hour at a time. Thanks to TVs in the machines at the gym. Thanks to clementine oranges, dark chocolate kisses, egg whites that come in cartons, 100 calorie ice cream sandwiches, and of course, the MVP of the group, skim milk. Bravo, guys. Finally, big props and MASSIVE thanks go to my online "friends" from LoseIt, who did jumping jacks and happy dances with me and for me EVERY step of the way. Their comments and smiley faces always brightened my day, and they made small victories feel like a VERY big deal. And I've never even met them.

NO THANKS go to: french fries (Y'ALL. Do you even realize???), overly perky people in Zumba class that make me think more about punching them IN THE FACE than actually exercising, that one itch on my right shin always that made me have to stand on the sides of the treadmill so I could lean down and scratch that one place real fast and jump back on which happened ALL THE TIME, tortilla chips (not an easy thing to stay away from in Texas, aka I TOTALLY DIDN'T but I HATE YOU ANYWAY), and finally, especially the fitness world for making me feel like I can't do ANYTHING right- like saying soda is unhealthy and so I make the change to diet but then they say diet soda is just as bad for you and WHY DOES NOTHING PLEASE YOU!?

It's not easy. And I will never condescend to anyone who decides to do it or thinks maybe they SHOULD do it, because it is HARD AS HELL. I'm sorry, but it is. Worth it? Yes. But hard. I never would have thought that ANYONE would ask for my advice, or how I, of all people, was losing weight, or EXACTLY what I am doing. But people, surprisingly enough, have done exactly that! I never thought that I would be the one that would an example to ANYONE, and yet here I am.

So if you'd like any further details or would like to ask any questions at all, please feel free to do so in the comments, or just email vmorby (at) g mail (dot) com. I would love to share, to advise, to encourage, to bring you to Zumba class, to... anything. Really.

Unfortunately, in the end there IS no movie montage, no "work it, gurrrrl" soundtrack, no fast forward button. There's no triumphant swells of music, no thumping bass. It's often quiet. Lonely. Boring. Slow. Frustrating. Monotonous. Complicated.

But it IS worth it, in the end. It's worth it for the "work it, gurrrrl" feeling. For the "Have you...?" comments. For the compliments suddenly coming from every which way. For the people asking me (ME!) how I did it!


(Pause. Big intake of breath.)

You know, for a really long time, it really is just slow. And quiet. And boring. For a really long time you put the work in with no real results. With no one noticing.

But then one day they do notice. And you get to buy new clothes, and feel just a little bit fabulous.

One day you'll bask in the glow of knowing you did it.

One day you'll lose 50 pounds.

And you'll hit "Publish" on your victory blog post, and share it with the world.

Monday, March 5, 2012

I've got the itch.

(Sister. Self. Cousin Shani. All looking stellar.)

It's happened. Again.

I have this crazy addiction that I'm able to stave off by avoiding. But somewhere between episodes of "Smash" and tickets to "Wicked" on Saturday, Broadway fever is in full swing.

Darn you, musical theatre.

We had this worn out VHS tape growing up that I watched obsessively whenever given permission. Forget the Mickey Mouse Club (and cable TV for that matter), I would have chosen The Wizard of Oz, Oklahoma, and The Music Man any day.

My dad took me to see Cathy Rigby in Peter Pan when I was little and the deal was sealed. I knew that I had to get on stage. So in kindergarten I auditioned for our school's talent show. Ordinarily the spots were reserved for 1st through 8th graders, but that wasn't about to stop me. The night of the show I wore my poofy dress and pranced to the front of the Sanctuary. Who doesn't love a child belting "I've got the Joy, Joy, Joy" without any accompaniment?

I remember walking around my house in black tights, a Dallas Cowboy Cheerleader jacket, and my mom's wedge heels, Barbie shoe in hand. I needed something to represent a cigarette at the start of "You're the One that I Want," By second grade I knew all of the parts Sandy sang in Grease even if I (thankfully) didn't understand them.

In 4th grade I participated in local children's theatre. It was a great experience even if the video is painful to watch. No one can ever fault me for not having enough volume. (Think Catherine O'Hara in Waiting for Guffman)

You can, however, fault me for my lack of dance ability, but I figure as long as I smile the rest will work itself out.

Anyways, it's been almost 3 years since the last show and I've got the itch. My husband keeps coming home and startling me because I'm singing show tunes in my own little world. I think it's time to audition again. We'll see what happens... Wish me... broken legs?