Thursday morning kicked off with a bang as I went through my centerpieces to loan for a fundraiser and find 2 bouquets and coordinating bouteniers to loan to Jennifer and John for an afternoon wedding. As usual, I was Event stacking for the day and had a Christmas Party at Shady Oaks Country Club after the wedding which made the day fairly tight on time.
I was hopeful that my favorite evening outfit that hadn’t fit in 7 years due to weight gain from menopause and thyroid cancer would fit after a yearlong weight loss journey with my sister, and told her I had a backup outfit if it wouldn’t fit (just in case) since I didn’t have time to try it on with my usual full day of commitments and since the top zipped in the back.
Cindy (like me) was concerned that setting out an outfit without trying it on first might be a disaster if it didn’t fit based on my timeline for the day of hopping from one event to the next to the next which is why I had set out a backup that would work. I’m a planner and always keep a Plan A, B and even C. Why designers put a back zipper on things continues to confuse me. After all, what if you’re single and live alone?
My twin and I had setbacks throughout our yearlong weight loss journey but have successfully kept all of the weight off. I lost a total of 57 lbs and Cindy lost 46 lbs after changing our diets, joining a gym and attending Camp Transformation Bootcamp Class for 6 weeks which really “whipped us into shape.” We had been depressed over the weight gain for years but every fad diet we tried would help us lose a few lbs only through gain them back which did little for our self confidence.
Making lifestyle changes and challenging ourselves was what actually helped us to lose weight and (more importantly), keep it off. We kept each other motivated throughout the process and if one of us gained a pound or two–hit the gym to get it back off as a TwinTeam.
Dieting can often bring a series of ups and downs so investing in scales for both of our homes not only kept us on track but also kept us accountable. We do everything together from working together at Texas Twins Events, The Pawning Planners & Texas Twins Treasures to spending time at the gym and with our families. This isn’t unusual for twins but may sound strange to non twins. We have a family of numerous sets of twins and hundreds of twin friends who (along with our husbands) “understand our twinned lives.”
Jennifer had emailed me regarding an Elopement with her fiancée, Army Officer John Armijo a few weeks ago so I bounced around a few ideas and scouted three locations for the ceremony that were decorated for Christmas.
Leigh Ann rode downtown with me and as soon as we parked, read a text from Jennifer that John had accidentally locked his keys in the car at Cavender’s a few miles from downtown. After searching my phone for a locksmith, Jennifer texted back that John had gotten into their vehicle and they were on the way downtown to meet us. To kill a few minutes while we were waiting, Leigh Ann and I goofed around and took a few photos.
Having no idea that Sundance Square charged $1500 and up to “rent the area,” I quickly decided to have my niece, Leigh Ann do a few photos in Sundance Square before loading everyone into my SUV to find a free location for the ceremony.
Jennifer and John were a beautiful couple and after explaining why we couldn’t do the ceremony at Sundance Square, were game to trust me on finding another location for the ceremony.
I drove to Trinity Park where I had married the Hirschberger Family a few years ago in a hailstorm on the bridge over the Trinity River. Many of my readers will remember the torrential downpour, 80 mph winds and quarter sized hail at that wedding. We only had an hour and a half for the ceremony because Lonnie was flying out of Carswell AFB that evening so, the weather wasn’t going to affect our plans. I’m a wedding warrior and failure is never an option when my clients and their families come to me for a Dream Event. As we pulled in, Jennifer and John loved the idea of marrying on the rocks that paved a path across the river and found a tree they liked too.
As Leigh Ann took them around the area for photos, I called to check in with Cindy and update her since she was in Weatherford waiting for the twins to get out of school and babysitting Maddy for Leigh Ann.
After the ceremony, we dashed over to the Botanic Garden for more photos before taking the newlyweds back to their truck parked downtown to capture a few more photos of them with John’s truck. We really had a wonderful time on an adventure with this couple! It’s a joy and an honor for my team and I to be a part of making clients Dreams come true at prices they can afford.
As I dashed home to change clothes and get ready for my next event at the country club, I asked my husband to come help me zip up my blouse and was delighted to find that it still fit! I was a clothing model for years and collected couture clothing throughout my career as a print and commercial model so even though my weight had changed over the years, I never sold or got rid of my clothes I stored them instead and hoped that one day I could find a way to once again wear my favorite outfits.
Throughout my weight loss journey, my husband and my grandnieces jumped on the weight loss bandwagon with us. The twins lost weight quickly as did my husband but losing weight for Cindy and I was (for some reason) far more difficult. My husband was thrilled to have lost 25lbs the past year and fit into his favorite suit.
As usual Shady Oaks was beautifully decorated and the food was delicious as we enjoyed visiting with everyone who told me how amazing I looked losing all of the weight and wanted to know how I had accomplished it without gastric surgery.
The truth is that losing weight requires dedication, hard work, Bootcamp, and diet changes with “no easy button” surprised a few people but– the reality is that Cindy and I had both tried to get a gastric bypass only to learn that our BCBS PPO Plans had a rider preventing you from getting weight loss surgery.
You see, we tried to find an “easy button” and there wasn’t one. No one who asks how we lost all of the weight was really interested in making the real life changes required for a successful weight loss journey because “it’s too much work. I love wine when I get home and can’t give it up. I just don’t have time to go to the gym. Isn’t there a pill that can help you lose weight?”
Sadly, if it were easy, my sister and I would have never gained this weight in the first place and would certainly have done whatever we could to lose is while we silently cried as menopause literally “packed on the pounds” year after year.
Gaining weight year after year battered my self esteem as I longingly looked at clothes in my “skinny closet” wondering if I would ever get into them again. I opened that closet so many times the past 7 years while wondering what was wrong with me that I can’t even count the many times I stood there hating myself for getting fat. Yes, I said hating myself. My entire life was spent on a diet. Obesity runs in my family and up until my 40’s, I had escaped being overweight as had Cindy. We hated “fat photos” taken at events with double chins and rarely posted “full body shots” because we felt so uncomfortable about gaining weight.
Losing the weight was the hardest thing my sister and I have ever put ourselves through because we had to “work in” workouts between taking care of our clients while also taking care of our families and finding time to meal prep and hit the gym. We were often tired but knew what we had to do to accomplish our goals.
This morning we met Justin Aversano from New York who had flown to Texas to photograph my twin sister and I for his upcoming art exhibit and book about twins. It was pretty cold here but we had a good time and can’t wait to see his results.
As we prepared to leave Justin and run off to finish Christmas Shopping, Cindy and I opened our SUV trunks to hand them our favorite stash of healthy snacks consisting of Premier Protein, Hint flavored water and a zip bag to keep items cool as they headed to California in search of more twins to finish their project of 100 twins across USA. We are #43 and my grandnieces will do their photo shoot on Justin’s return trip to Texas in the Spring since they are both sick with the flu. My grandnieces Maryssa, Makenna and Madyson are our pride and joy.
Hopefully our last minute gift list items will be wrapped up before Christmas Eve which is usually spent wrapping gifts for 6-8 hours in my office area this year and can instead enjoy our favorite holiday movies instead but with our adult children coming by to borrow wrapping paper, tape, name tags and other WorthamWorld staples, you never know.
No one in my family buys wrapping paper because I keep a year round holiday closet filled with everything for a new baby to birthday parties, retirement parties and (of course) Christmas. I keep our home well stocked with wrapping paper, gift bags and even gifts of photo frames or candles and perfume because I’m a list maker and pre plan just about everything. I can’t help it, I’m OCD.
While Christmas shopping with Cindy yesterday, I was trying to find a particular toy for my grandniece, Madyson and after three stores, turned to Cindy and said “it’s another Teddy Ruxpin- Cabbage Patch Kid Christmas.” Our years spent trying to find Teddy Ruxpin for my son or Cabbage Patch Kids for my nieces are now a private joke between us at Christmas because we spent so many years trying to find this or that and finally gave it all up with our new motto “you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit.” If my son or nieces open a gift and say “but I asked for this,” I say “well it looks like it’s going to be a Teddy Ruxpin- Cabbage Patch Christmas” and add in my usual “maybe next year.” Cindy uses comedy when our kids are dissapointed with their Christmas haul by busting out singing “it’s gonna be a hard candy Christmas!”
Teaching your children “the reason for the season” isn’t always easy but all of our children and grandchildren volunteer with us and donate to numerous charities. We believe that by teaching them empathy and compassion that they will embrace the values of helping others rather than focusing on what they did or didn’t get for Christmas. In today’s commercialization of Christmas, it’s sometimes difficult to remind children (and adults) not only the reason for the season but also the spirit of giving and expecting nothing in return.
It’s not well known that as children, we rarely had Christmas gifts or even a Christmas tree because we were poor. Perhaps the best gift that my twin sister and I ever received in our lives were store bought coats with the tags still on them at 12 years old. The “tags still on them” part is important because we had never had anything new or store bought before in our lives.
Although we have told our children and grandchildren that being poor at Christmas taught us to be thankful, they have never really went without on birthdays or Christmas because we went without to ensure that they didn’t. They might have missed out on Teddy Ruxpin or Cabbage Patch Kids but if you give your children everything they want all the time, are you really doing them a favor? That coat wouldn’t have been nearly as important to my sister or I if we hadn’t been poor.
The hardest person in my life to please at Christmas was my grandmother. No matter what gift I bought, it was never good enough. Trying to see her open a gift every year with joy or gratitude was often a thankless task.
My grandmothers brother Roy was a hobo and often “rode the rails” to visit during Christmas. One year he found an old pillow that looked like a sun with hair rollers still inside the zipper compartment that someone had thrown away and gave it to my sister and I. We loved the happy smiling sunshine face and the surprise that visits from Roy would bring. He wasn’t like anyone we had ever met and we had no idea what the “hobo life” was like or why he lived on a train. Whenever I see a homeless person today, I think of Roy and wonder why he “went against the grain” by leaving everything he knew to travel the world in his homeless style while making his way back year after year. Roy was always kind to us and often dirty but we didn’t care. His stories of the leaves changing in fall or the smell of burning coal were like a book at the public library to us as he described a world we had yet to see. Roy died riding the rails in his quest for adventure. It took years for us to realize this as my sister and I waited near the train station every winter waiting to see him hop off a boxcar. I will forever miss his spirit and his laughter. The second hand gift of the pillow that no one wanted was proudly placed on my bed for years until my grandmother threw it away because it reminded her of him one day while we were at school.
One year my grandmother gave my sister and I a pumpkin for our “birthday and Christmas gift.” Wondering why we were getting a pumpkin, I asked why we couldn’t have toys or clothes like other children only to be told that I was looking a gift horse on the chin. My grandmother (who wasn’t the loving or cuddly type a day in her life), never gave us another gift because we were ungrateful about the pumpkin “gift.” When we asked why we didn’t get birthday gifts or parties like other children, we were told that birthday parties were for rich kids and children shouldn’t expect anything. We never went to birthday parties for other children either because “gifts cost money and you don’t go to a party without a gift. You weren’t invited because they like you. You were invited to bring a gift.”
Like Roy, my grandmother was “different” in her beliefs and if she had any love in her heart for anyone other than herself, I never witnessed any evidence of it.
My sister and I spent our lives trying to win our grandmother over by giving her whatever she wanted and waiting (even on her deathbed) for her to tell us she loved us or she was proud of us for the sacrifices we made to make her life comfortable and happy. She never did.
Our childhoods defined us while challenging us to become more resilient. We became the people we had never known because we were compassionate and because we decided to be the role models for our children and grandchildren we never had for ourselves. Our generosity is known far and wide because we have always treated our clients and complete strangers with hospitality and kindness. Children may learn what they live but as adults, we took what we had lived and turned it around to be the people we would like to meet.
The greatest gift that we will ever have are our husbands, our children and grandchildren. They love us unconditionally and are never afraid to tell us or more importantly, show us they love us. For me, love is priceless.
All of our children and grandchildren are aware that their lives are different than our own because we raised our children differently. We put them first and often went without to do so. We also taught them that there many others are less fortunate and instilled the gift of giving to strangers at a young age for our children. We told them about Uncle Roy and his adventures that while embarrassing to many of his own siblings, were fascinating to us. We explained that no one really chooses to be homeless. Life is full of ups and downs and when you meet a homeless person, try to treat them with the kindness that many others who may meet them won’t. If they are cold, hand them a scarf or a jacket, a blanket or your gloves. Kindness is such a rare occurrence to someone down on their luck these days that if you have an opportunity to be kind, don’t let it pass you by.
While in California a few months ago, my sister and my niece were surprised by the sheer numbers of homeless people in Santa Monica, Santa Barbara and especially Lompoc. The little city we had grown up in has the biggest homeless population that we have ever seen firsthand. We asked our sister Tammy why there were so many and was there a community center or church to assist them. As a child, I have no memory of witnessing homelessness.
The first time that I saw anyone with a “will work for food” sign was in my late 20’s on a bridge in Murrietta, California with my sister while driving my nieces home from school. I remember wondering where his family was or why he was holding a sign on a dangerous bridge and told my sister that perhaps bringing him a hot meal would make his day a bit brighter. To our surprise, when we returned to give him a fast food meal, he asked for money. I’m going to admit that we’ve probably been taken advantage of over the years due to Roy who made being homeless look fun when we were younger with no school, no rules and no chores. Roy permanently impacted our lives by putting a face on homelessness while making “sleeping on a rock” appear far more appealing than it was.
My grandmother used to threaten us about “winding up like Roy if you don’t study in school or find a good job or let yourself get fat because nobody wants to marry anyone overweight.” You see, being overweight was an issue as far back as I can remember and my grandmother would do anything to keep us from being overweight which often backfired because we were half starved and loved bread, waffles, honey buns and ice cream. What kid doesn’t?
Losing weight in our 20’s and keeping it off for 20 years to keep from hearing “you’re too pretty to be fat,” wasn’t easy but visits to my grandmother who viewed obesity with the same disgust as homelessness (like her brother Roy) was far easier if you didn’t look like you had put on any weight.
Over the years we have learned that not every person holding a “will work for food” sign really wants food. A few of them want money to buy liquor and while I’ve heard the opinions about giving homeless people money VS food, the truth is that many shelters require a small fee so the money may or may not be used for liquor and is often used for shelter. To be on the safe side, my sister and I often give food and a few dollars or baggies of quarters when “paying it forward” to someone down on their luck.
It’s not unusual for our adult children or grandchildren to volunteer at events or help me load and organize loaned items from my inventory for fundraisers. They donate their talents as photographers on a regular basis and have for years because they realize that it “takes a village.” My sister and I have taught all of our children the virtue or “gifting” their talents and their generosity because there are no repeat days in life. Being the best person you can be everyday isn’t easy and if it were, wouldn’t everyone be kinder?
Helping others my sisters favorite part of Christmas. We cherish every opportunity to help not only our clients but also complete strangers whenever possible because we believe that something everyone can afford is kindness.
Many Blessings and Merry Christmas to all of our Twins, Friends and Clients. We wish you another year filled with laughter, joy, good friends and new memories….