Tag Archives: accountability

Thanks to my village!

A good friend gave me this plaque on Friday: IMG_3419

It speaks profoundly to my experience. We do not travel the Trail alone. We do so accompanied by family and friends who care for us, sometimes in ways we fail to realize. We do so surrounded by neighbors and people we do not know whose lives touch ours in surprising, amazing ways. And we do so supported by sisters and brothers we will never meet, sisters and brothers who work hard, and whose labor is sometimes exploited, to allow us to enjoy the lives we have. There is much to ponder.

For tonight, I use this plaque as an opportunity to thank those who support my self-care effort. Tricia, Sean, and Eric have been great! Certain friends are key to my effort. Many are always there. A number have become part of my community of accountability, receiving self-serving emails with gentle grace. Their support comes in many forms: reading what I write, responding, sending an unexpected text, providing a plaque and vitamins, answering questions, asking on Facebook, “Have you been to the gym?”, and more.

A wider community also takes care of me. People who like or comment on Facebook posts. People who take the moment to say encouraging words. People like Greg, who literally gushed about my progress before and after the service when I preached at the Church of the Covenant.

It takes a village to lose a boatload of weight and take care of oneself. At least it does for me. To each of you – to all of you – in  my village, my thanks. I hope I care for you as well as you care for me.

See you along the Trail.

 

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Self care 1

The details are on my other blog, but today marked a break through in my self-care efforts. For the first time ever, I did more running that walking on the treadmill.

Over the past few days, I have been humbly and powerfully reminded of the importance of a community in this effort.

It will take a village to help me lose this boatload of weight and improve my conditioning.

For those in the village – thank you!

See you along the Trail.

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Cheering section

We both stopped short as we came to the corner. I walked close to the building, too close I admit. Perhaps Ralph and Sally did, too. But we both stopped short; we averted a collision.

“Mark. You are losing weight again. Well done,” Ralph gushed.

His excitement and enthusiasm has remained with me all day. I have reflected on the experience all day.

Today marks the ninth day I have worked at self-care. This time. I have made many efforts in recent years as well. Sometimes I do well for a stretch and then everything falls apart. Eight days, soon nine, represents one of my longer efforts.

Ralph’s encouraging words, reminded me of how this time is different from earlier efforts and how this time is the same.

What is different, is this time I am working with a doctor with whom I feel connected. I have liked my earlier doctors. I have trusted them. But this time, something clicked with my new doctor from my first visit in May. I had a pretty good run after the appointment. Then I spent two weeks eating everything that did not move while at the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s General Assembly. My second visit took place on June 23. She gave me advice and now I try to apply it.

What is the same, is the community of accountability that surrounds and sustains and supports me. It includes friends and family who have expressed concern for my health – and who have voiced support for my efforts. Some in the group comment on my Facebook posts or follow the blog where I make reports or engage me in conversations, virtual and real. They have made their support known to me and I appreciate it them deeply. They serve as my personal cheering section. Others, such as Ralph, cheer me on even when I am unaware of their presence.

To all the members of this accountability group, family and friends, known and unknown, I say thank you. With your support, I have made a great start. The journey continues.

See you along the Trail.

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I need to try again

Communities of accountability have a way of intersecting.

The same people often appear in different communities to which we are accountable. A person may play a key role in one community and stand on the periphery of others. Or a person may hold a key place in several communities.

Make rosters of my communities of accountability and you will find Merdine T. Morris on many of those lists. A few years ago, I described her in these words:

Merdine T. and I have been friends for more than 20 years. Friend really does not do our relationship justice, she is my mentor, teacher, challenger, comforter, disturber of my peace, guide, anchor . . . the list goes on.

Today I add, Merdine T. Morris is practically a one person community of accountability for me.

Three years ago, Merdine T.’s health failed and I reflected on what I thought might be our last visit.

Merdine T. recovered.

On Tuesday, Tricia, Eric and I went to see her. We arrived and told the receptionist we wanted to visit Merdine T. She paused a moment and said, “I don’t think Merdine T. is here.”

She checked a list and informed us that Merdine T. had gone to lunch with a group. On the one hand, this was disappointing. On the other, it was great, good news.

I carry Merdine T. in my heart and head and will always do so. But I give thanks to know that she can get out and around.

And I need to try to see her again before I leave for New York.

See you along the Trail.

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To a community of accountability – thank you!

My friend Laura Mariko Cheifetz has recently written twice about communities of accountability. As she notes:

I could operate all by myself as an individual, but that would be a lie. I am who I am because of the communities that form(ed) me and support(ed) me.

Laura notes that in some instances, she reports to communities of accountability. In other cases, while that word might be too strong, she still exist in, and nurtures, relationship with that community.

After reflecting on some of the communities to which she is accountable, Laura poses the question:

What are your communities of accountability? Your church? Your neighborhood? How do you stay accountable to them?

I would name a number of such communities in my life. The list that follows is not necessarily in order of importance. It is the communities in the order that they occur to me – bearing in mind that I am on a new allergy medication at the moment. I am accountable to:

  • family
  • the Presbytery of New York City
  • the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
  • the staff of the Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations
  • the Compassion, Peace, and Justice Ministry
  • the Presbyterian Mission Agency Board
  • colleagues within the UN community and across the church who work for justice
  • the community where I live
  • a circle of friends built through the years – a circle that expands and contracts as we move through life
  • people of color (and white people) with whom I seek to challenge racism
  • women (and men) with whom I seek to challenge sexism
  • LGBT sisters and brothers (and straight brothers and sisters) with whom I seek to challenge heterosexism
  • young people (and older people) with whom I seek to challenge ageism

How do I stay accountable? In different ways with different groups at different times. Sometimes accountability comes in filling in forms and making reports. Sometimes accountability comes through being together and engaging in conversation. Sometimes accountability comes from recalling lessons taught and values shared. Sometimes accountability comes in remembering – allowing people’s faces and voices to fill my mind when we are far apart.

Two areas for further work come to me as I reflect on communities of accountability:

  1. Where do my communities intersect? Who is part of more than one community? What does that mean? Is it something to nurture intentionally? How would I do that?
  2. Where do I need to build new communities of accountability? The area of economic justice and injustice is one area that comes to mind immediately. Where else? What will that take on my part?

I have much to ponder. And I am grateful to Laura for opening this area of thought for me.

But before I close, I want to give a shout-out to a community of accountability that means a great deal to me at the moment. About two months ago, I decided to make another effort at self-care. I have made some remarkable progress although a long, long, long way remains to go. The effort combines exercise (walking at the moment) and reducing calories. I regularly bore Facebook with the information about my exercise for each day. That simple act somehow helps hold me accountable. Friends comment from time to time – different friends each time. Their feedback matters; but it is the posting that makes the difference.

I have also created a community of accountability – pulling together a number of friends and family who have expressed concern for my health – and who have voiced support for my efforts. This group receives weekly and monthly updates on my progress in terms of eating and exercise and weight loss and blood sugar control.

Some individuals have asked to be part of the group. Others I have drafted. I blind copy the group with the emails so they do not necessarily know who else is a member.

Each report receives a few responses – no one responds all the time – everyone responds once in a while. I deeply appreciate the responses. But even more deeply, I appreciate that the group members are willing to receive my updates.

To the members of this accountability group – to my family and friends – I say thank you. With your support, I have made a great start. The journey continues.

See you along the Trail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Antiracism, Exercise, Family, Food, Friends, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Presbyterian Ministry at the United Nations