Tide of Change

After a particularly violent storm, an older gentleman happened upon the scene while on his morning walks along the beach.  The shoreline was littered with starfish baking in the morning sun.  Overwhelmed by the shear number of crustaceans, it appeared the coastline was covered for as far as the man could see.

His attention was drawn away as he saw a small child run from the sand and then wade waist deep to release a starfish back to the water.  For several moments, the elder observed the school aged kid perform this routine over and over.

The gentleman shuffled over to the young’un.  “What do you think you are doing there kid?  There are thousands of them.  You’ll never make a difference.”

After hearing the man’s proclamation, the child reached down to pick up a starfish that lay in front of the sand covered feet of the man.  “To this one, Sir, to this one, it makes a difference.”

Passers by joined the older man and child to return the stranded starfish to the sea and a new chance at life.

The parable has many symbols of society.

I sat at the bedside of a woman that was homeless.  I had the forms and checklist I needed to help guide her through with as much compassion I could convey.  Her hair was wiry and sealed in weeks’ worth of grime.  Her skin, porous and leathery, had bruises and small pebbles ground into it from the assault.

As a sexual assault crisis advocate, I was training a college student volunteer.  As a male, I had to have an escort that was female to avoid  any concerns of the survivor.  It was made crystal clear that I was never to have physical contact with the survivor.  Given the trauma a female could have endured through the sexual & physical assault, it was the aim to empower the survivor to have control over her body.  Even a casual touch could trigger a protective response.  Tears traced down her weathered face as she grabbed my arm.  The clasp sent waves of sensations throughout my body.  “Why would anyone want to have sex with me? WITH ME!?!?!  Look at me!”

In seconds, I flashed to a conversation I had weeks earlier.  “Are you sure you want me to do this?  Aren’t I the last thing a woman would want to see?” I asked the Coordinator of services.

Melody was a Southern lady that bragged she collected gaudy costume jewelry.  She always dressed in nicely pressed clothes.  The Virginia Slim cigarette that she pulled from her lips had her ruby lipstick smeared on what used to be the white filter.  She kept her sunglasses on her head like a RayBan tiara.  Melody was a mix of Dixie Carter from Designing Women and Flo from Mel’s Diner.

“Chad, I want them to see not all guys will hurt them.  Especially, I want you to be there for the kids,” Melody said after she took another sip of her sweet tea.

In a blink of an eye, I refocused on the lady in the hospital bed.  Her eyes almost swollen shut showed her weary soul.  I acknowledged her right to her body.  “No matter what, no one should have violated you.  You didn’t deserve to be hurt.  I am sorry.  May I squeeze your hand?” I asked.  She moved her hand from my arm to my hands.  I took her dry, cracked hands in mine.  “You are a beautiful person.  I am sorry this happened to you.  You are special.  Thank you for trusting me to share about what you experienced.”

I was reminded of the parable recently..  We, as a society, can turn our eyes away from opportunities to be that young child full of enthusiasm.  We can play the role of the wise elder and unknowingly discourage a generosity of spirit.  Conversely, we can, also, be inspired to join in to fight the good fight.  We can be the passerby who witnesses a scene of encouragement and be an agent of change.

Each day we interact with someone, we have an opportunity to help bring healing.  Even if it is just for a moment in time, it is vital to not be too busy to make a difference.  Our efforts may not be able to change the tide.  For one soul, in that moment, we can make a difference.

Food for thought…


If you scored this on a test, you could be thrilled or disappointed.  If 80 is your fasting blood sugar, it is a good thing.
On my Facebook feed, some people have made condescending  remarks about the gastric bypass. Well, that’s not exactly true. They put down the PEOPLE who get the gastric bypass. “Those” type of people.
With the loss of my sight and stress (and years of unaccountable, bad behavior), I became diabetic. I, then, attempted to lose weight by controlling carbs & calories. It was impossible. Ok, impossible for me. I had to fight through a lot of personal demons to find hope and light.  Diabetes made losing weight incredibly difficult. 
Jennifer (my wife) had the gastric bypass and it changed the way she ate. I was attracted to the possibility of no longer being diabetic (type II).
I have met those people who were obviously too smart and busy to grasp the life changes one has to make after the surgery. They lost weight and ballooned right back up.  Fortunately, I know more people who had success with the gastric bypass than those who did not. 
Food is emotional, celebratory, and a social institution.  As Jennifer & I adjust to our new lives post surgery, we have become more aware how food has interwoven into gatherings, workplace interactions, and after hour get-togethers.  Individually and as a couple, we make healthier choices and support one another.  Jennifer has been an ideal role model and I do a fairly good job of pestering, I mean, providing supportive feedback.
Gastric Bypass is not the easy way out. For some, gastric bypass becomes an opportunity to save their lives.
My blood sugar was 80 this morning and I didn’t experience the dramatic “low” of falling blood sugar levels.  In the past, going below 100 caused a panicked response physiologically. Sweats, rapid heart beats, shaky, and emotionally anxious. Unfortunately, a survival instinct is to eat sugary substances.  Aware of better foods, I am able to keep my levels stable and avoid foods that spike my sugars up only to fall quickly down.  My sugars have been below 100 in the mornings yet not too low, either.  
From the classes and support groups we had to attend pre & post surgery, gastric bypass was stressed as a tool.  Each of us would need to work with medical professionals, physical therapists, dietitians, and participate in exercise programs.
There are others like Jennifer & I who have excelled after the surgery and gastric bypass was life saving. I firmly believe that I would have died without it.  My A1C blood test score was 5.1 a month ago and will hopefully continue to get lower.  The score of 80 is significant that my levels are within a healthy range.
I chose not to listen to Facebook anecdotal posts, investigated what was right for me, and followed through with the medical recommendations.  I feel that I am living healthier now than at any point.  I still have lots of weight to lose, can eat even healthier, and be more active.  I have moved from a human being to a human doing.  By making small changes to eliminating certain foods and unhealthy choices to increasing water intake, fruit & vegetables, and going for walks several days a week.  The journey to becoming healthier takes dedication and willingness to put in the time.    
I am now walking daily with Perry (guide dog).  We are walking so often and for several miles that I invested in better walking shoes out of necessity. I have not had soda in almost two years.  My A1C went from a 7.2 down to 5.1 in a little over a year.  Where I could barely walk around the block, PearBear & I have a daily 5k before 8am.    
If your attitude is that losing weight is so simple and diet & exercise will fix anyone, it may be true for you. Others may have (emotional, physiological, & financial) barriers.  Drop your stones and join the collective.
I fell into a pit of depression years ago.  Admittedly, I dug it deeper.  I had been there so long that I forgot about life could be anything different that what was around me.  When I decided to throw down my shovel for good, I made the choice to get out of the pit and become an agent of change in my own life.  Change is possible one day at a time…one step at a time.  The choice to be a human doing only makes me stronger.