Lessons from Watching the Sunrise

October 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

I’m from Washington, DC.

But if you’re from Northern Virginia then you know I just lied—kind of.

Except that I didn’t.

If you’re actually from Northern Virginia or even Maryland, you usually tell people you’re from DC.  Or you might even say—“The District”.   Because that’s just what you say. And it’s mostly true.  When you say that, it  probably means you live a few minutes outside of DC in some suburb. But you work there.  Maybe go to school there.  So you say you’re from there.  Maybe because it sounds so much cooler to say you’re from DC than Virginia.  Maybe because it puts in people’s minds this vision of Presidents, politics, museums, culture.  Probably other things too that aren’t so fantastic.  But either way, we’d rather be impressive than not…right?

I guess that’s what we do as humans.  We try to increase our value.  Prove our worth.  Make sure everyone knows that we’re important.  Or that we’re at least FROM somewhere “important”.  But who decides that?

Who decides what’s important?  Who determines our worth?  Because we chase after it our whole lives.  It starts even before we know it.

“When did your baby start walking?”

“When did your baby start talking?”

“Mine read at two”

And it begins.

Other people start determining our worth before we’re verbal.  We can’t even walk  before we’re being measured by doctors on some curve.  Are you above or below? Is your head the right size?  Not according to this chart!

My oldest daughter didn’t talk until she was almost 3 years old.  The doctors kept referring me to specialists.  They thought she was deaf.  But the hearing specialist said she wasn’t.   Specialist after specialist just couldn’t figure out why she was below the curve.  What was wrong with her??

Once I even had a doctor ask, “Does she seem to LIKE you?”

Like me??

Um yes….I’d even say she loves me….

I worried.  I cried.  I prayed.  And one day my daughter came up to me and said…

“Can I have a piece of toast?”

Nothing mind blowing.  Nothing amazing.  Just toast.

And that was it.  Problem solved.  She started reading soon after that.  EARLY (according to the charts).  And suddenly we were no longer below the curve.  Now we were above it.  Just like that.

But we waste time.  SO MUCH OF IT.  Letting others decide what we’re worth.

Then we decide individually and we live our life from the inside out.

First deciding if we’re worth something.

Then living our life according to that belief.

Wouldn’t you like to live in a world where your value is not determined by others? Where it can’t change with the blowing of the wind?

Wouldn’t you like to wake up EVERY SINGLE DAY and know in spite of your bank account, relationship status, weight, height or connections—that you are valuable?

I have framed plaques that say I am appreciated for being a military spouse.  And I took great pride in that for 10 years.   I felt that I belonged to a community of individuals.  That I was a military wife.  And because of that—I was important.

Then we got divorced.  And I wasn’t that anymore.  I was a military EX-wife.  They don’t make plaques for that.  There are no T-shirts and bumper stickers for that one.   My military ID was removed from me.  I was booted off the health insurance.  My children had to get me on base now as their guest.  Just to take them to the doctor, I had to go through a whole series of steps to prove I had a reason to be there.  I lost my friends.  My community.  A whole decade of my life where my entire identity was wrapped up in being a military wife—gone.   And with it, my sense of being valued.

What was I worth now?

Now I was in my 30’s.  Obese.  The single mother of 4 children.  I was told once by a man that I had too much “baggage” because of that.  My own grandmother told me that I was no longer marketable.  She didn’t mean it to hurt but it did.

What was my value now?

Zero. So  I fed that void with cupcakes.  It didn’t matter then because cupcakes are sweet.  If you turn on the television and you eat sweet things– a whole lot doesn’t matter for awhile.  Until you wake up the next day with regrets and empty boxes.  As you throw away the evidence of the previous night’s binge, you are reminded once again of your worth.  Every empty candy wrapper another example of your weakness.  Crumpled fast food wrappers another sign of your failure to meet the standard for being worth something.

It’s not so different from hangovers.  Drugs.  One night stands.

They all leave you feeling bad.  They all leave you worse off than before.  And yet you keep going back.   Repeatedly.

Like a broken record that can’t get past that scratch.

I’ve been down several  broken roads in my life.

Seeking my worth and not finding it.

Finding it and then losing it.

Over the course of my life, I’ve been down and I’ve been up.  I’ve conquered things.  And I’ve been crushed by others.  It almost seems as if the minute I get my footing, I slip again.  I never thought I could handle my divorce.  I remember like yesterday the exact feeling of knowing (KNOWING) that I would never….and I do mean NEVER….recover from it.  Because I couldn’t.  It’s like someone dying.  You can’t bring them back.  THEY ARE GONE.  And if they are gone then that means there is no hope, right?  So that’s it.  You’re done.

That was the feeling I had.  And it’s horrible.  It’s the feeling of knowing that it’s pointless to even try to come up with a game plan.  All is lost.  And that’s it. You can never make it better.  So there is nothing to do now but survive.  Just live through another day.  Not thriving.  Not really even living.


And yet over time, I saw that even in the bleakest and darkest moment of my life–if I just held on—things could get better.  Not that my circumstances changed really.  I was still a single mom of 4 kids.  I was still alone.  But in that circumstance, light shined through.

Then my mom died.  I lost my job.  I gained a zillion pounds.  But then I lost 240 of them.  And alcohol started taking the place of food.  And then I dated people I shouldn’t have dated.  And I gained back weight.  And once again it was bleak.  Once again it felt pointless.  Once again I was just SURVIVING.

I asked God WHY?  Why does it seem that right when I get it together, I lose it.   Why does it seem that I can’t ever just ARRIVE??   When will things stop happening to me.   When will I stop making the wrong things happen?? When will I ever just catch a break??

I wanted to wait for things to get better.  To see if they’d improve.  But in the midst of that I was reminded that it doesn’t work that way.

My mom used to tell me “Just keep getting the ball down the field“….

“One foot in front of the other”

She knew that because of what she’d been through.  Abandoned as a child by both parents.  Raised in an abusive home.  Struggling with clinical depression her entire life.  Divorced as an adult.  It seemed as if she couldn’t catch a break.   And yet through it all she learned to just keep getting the ball down the field.

One foot in front of the other.

So I did that this week.  Nothing great.  Just getting up and walking half a mile each morning with the sunrise.  My food is still messed up.  I’m still not losing weight.  I even gained a pound because those stupid extra cheddar flavor blasted goldfish crackers jumped into my mouth against my will.

Please believe that story

But I’m still screwed up in a number of areas. And yet I still declare that I made progress!!

Because for the past 5 mornings, I went walking in the rain and watched the sunrise.

And then I was reminded of a poem.

The Rainy Day

By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The day is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
The vine still clings to the mouldering wall,
But at every gust the dead leaves fall,
And the day is dark and dreary.

My life is cold, and dark, and dreary;
It rains, and the wind is never weary;
My thoughts still cling to the mouldering Past,
But the hopes of youth fall thick in the blast,
And the days are dark and dreary.

Be still, sad heart! and cease repining;
Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all,
Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary.


That’s how it is sometimes.  Trying to make progress.  Trying to wake up to a new day to find the same situation.  Trying not to overeat and then doing it again.  Trying not to miss someone who’s gone.  Trying not to be depressed when the dark cloud never leaves.

“We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom.”—Isaiah 59:9

And yet nature reveals that light can shine without things changing.  That even in the middle of your circumstances, God CAN establish the dawn.

Today I suggest something simple.  Watch the sunrise.

I did that this morning.  Here are the pictures:

It starts out dark.  With some faint light peeking through.  You think it will stay that way for awhile but it doesn’t.



photo 1-14


Within minutes, the sun seems to rise above the trees.

photo 3-11

And it just keeps getting brighter



photo 4-8



And brighter



photo 5-8


You try to take a selfie with the sun rising behind you but it doesn’t work because it’s BLINDING









From bleakness to brightness




photo 1-15



photo 2-20


That’s what it’s like watching the sunrise.   At first it’s dark.  Then the light peeks through.  Then it’s beautiful.  And then it blinds you.

And if you head off to get a chair to sit down and watch it—you’ll miss it.  Because when the sun starts to rise, it happens THAT fast.

It doesn’t matter that there was darkness for the entire night.  Once the sun comes up, it takes no time at all.

Today give the sun a chance to rise in your life.  Open up your eyes to the possibility that it could happen.  Just keep putting one foot in front of the other. Even if it seems that nothing will change.  Keep getting the ball down the field.  Keep TRYING even if you can only make one small step. Maybe it will seem as if all is lost.  But right in the middle of that, a light will shine through.  You’ll suddenly see things differently.  Notice things that you didn’t before.  You may be in the same place with the same people only now something inside of you is rising up and letting you view it from a different perspective.

Today the sun came up.  So there is hope.  Our value and worth will not be determined by the rain.  Not by our mistakes.  Not by our own abilities.

Believe it.  And let the light in.  Let it shine through and reveal what you couldn’t see in the dark.

That hope is there.

 Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear  

Isaiah 58:8


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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

chris October 18, 2014 at 5:14 pm

oh…I love this….let your worth be determined inside!


Christine October 18, 2014 at 7:19 pm

Beautiful, well thought out entry – as if you would do otherwise. I forwarded you an email to your gmail address. I hope you have time to read it. Remember this quote from one of your faves – Dr. Seuss; Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.


Kim October 18, 2014 at 7:38 pm

Thank you for the hope you inspire in many of us. You eloquently put into words what I often feel. God bless you. 🙂


Jo October 18, 2014 at 11:50 pm

I’ve been witness to some beautiful sunrises this week and it’s all thanks to you and the 5 day challenge. I completed day 5 today. I am off to Ireland and England on Tuesday so I won’t be doing the next 5 day challenge. I will get in as much walking as I can while I’m away. I hope you keep up the good work and I will check in when I get back.

Beautiful, thoughtful post today. Thankyou. See you in a couple of weeks.


Mrs. Abella October 19, 2014 at 12:39 pm

Good early Sunday morning from Kansas!

I (most of the time) get to see the sunrise and am up way before the rooster crows. I get a few moments to enjoy a cup of hot espresso/dark roast before the kids get up and time to get hubby up for the day, and the hectic routines start. It’s a little chilly to be out walking so early, and the kids need me first thing, but when the spring and summer return next year that’s a goal I’d like to get tackled.

I found you yesterday while doing some searching. I too am on a weight loss journey, and it’s a long one, starting at 401 and working to end at 200 or less, or a size 12/14, which ever comes first. It’s hard. Life is hard. I can relate to where you’ve been, I’ve been a single parent with a special needs child, was told I had too much baggage with fat and a high needs child, and so badly just wanted love and to be wanted. Fast forward a few years, I’m married with 3 special needs kids in a combined home, all 3 hitting the teen years at the same basic time.

This time I blog about the weight loss. I’ve done lots of weight loss before, getting down to a XL, and going into law enforcement after it, as I was in awesome shape and it was a good job. But this was 16 years ago and internet wasn’t available in our home and computers were unattainably expensive to me at the time. So this time, I write about the journey, the ups and downs, and also seek out others who have been or are down the same basic road. It’s a tough one, but with God, I can do it and so can you. Each day, give God the glory, pray for His sustaining hand to help, and keep on going. Gluttony is a sin and I’ve been guilty of it, but it doesn’t have to be a current ongoing sin. It is something to be repented of and left behind.

You can do it Holly! Lean on the Lord, He will carry you when you can’t go on your own.

Lots of hugs!
Mrs. Abella recently posted..Weight Loss Challenge –Week 7My Profile


Jessica October 22, 2014 at 6:08 pm

This is really beautiful, Holly! I’m going back and reading a few days that I’ve missed of your blog posts, and this one struck me as simply beautiful!


Holly from 300 Pounds Down October 22, 2014 at 8:18 pm

Thank you so much Jessica!


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