Not so long ago, I was 625 pounds. I took cholesterol and blood pressure medication, walked with a cane, and hated life and myself. As many of you know, I've been on an amazing journey, a journey to take back my life. I'm not a teacher, a doctor, nor do I have a degree or any plaques on my wall. What I do have is the experience, a plan, that helped me to regain control of my life, and I want to help you to do the same. Let's do it together. Dan Hawthorne

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

I'm Living Proof

In the past, I've talked about the physical changes, the weight loss and the re-discovery of life, but I've yet to share the changes that occurred just below the skin. So let's take a walk, not on the wild side, but on the deeper side of me. (Wink)   

As I look back over the last two years, I remember viewing the world as a very negative and mean place. I lived each day emotionally locked in survival mode, always questioning. 

How can I find the desire to live? How am I going to get through the day? Why is God even allowing me to live, and, what do I contribute to the world? Why do I exist?

I tell ya friends; I lived in an ugly world for a long time. It was so dark that the only time I felt any comfort or relief was when I was shoveling a burger into my mouth.  Can you relate? Does this sound like you? 

Well, it doesn't have to be. You can get your life back--I'm living proof. 

Today, I'm a new man. The changes that have transpired inside of me, though they started by losing a few pounds, are truly the fruits of a renewed soul. I'm a better me for having taken the first steps towards a better me, if that makes sense, and for finally taking a chance on me. 

I've lost well over three hundred and thirty five pounds, yes, but it was the confidence gained by TRYING that renewed my spirit, allowing me to view life differently.  Every day I wake up with a positive approach to life, not because of the scale but because I believe in the blessing of second chances--better yet, I believe in the God of second chances too.  

God is no longer a bigger-than-life mystery to me anymore. He's real. I felt him with me in my darkest hour. When nobody else could bare to enter my sad-sad world, God did. 

Now let me be honest here. At my lowest point, I hated God.  Honestly, I no longer even believed in him. So, if you are at your lowest point right now, understand this--I know where you're at. I know how dark and lonely the room you're locked in is, so, I'm not going to try and convince you God will save you, because I know you can't believe it--not right now anyway.  What I'm asking today is that you believe in yourself. Believe in that glimmer of a reflection, the real you, I know you can still see, though disfigured at the moment.  Give him/her a second chance. (*) Then wait and see what happens!

We're all on a journey; to see and feel all that life has to offer.  There's so many wonderful experiences for us to enjoy. But you can't experience it while you're squatting in the darkness. You must step out into the light!  Positive energy attracts positive energy just like negative thoughts and outlooks will point you in the wrong direction. If you are now where I was two years ago, then you know which direction is the wrong directions. You know which steps brought you to where you are now.  Don't repeat them. Do an about-face. 

We are here on this earth for only a short time, and though I don't claim to know what happens after this time on earth ends, I do know we're here to live like one family. It doesn't matter what you look like, what color your skin is or weather your wealthy or poor. We're family and family shares everything--love, life, the planet and its beauty--so look deep into that mirror, into that soul, and learn to like you! See yourself as God sees you--the most beautiful of all his creations. Once you do that, like any other good relationship, you'll learn to love YOU as well.  Then maybe, just maybe, what I wrote above (*) will make more sense to you. 

OK, Rev Dan has finished his sermon for the day. (wink) Remember--see the beauty, feel the love. Can I get a "AMEN" my beautiful brothers and sisters?  



Monday, June 17, 2013

"Man in the Mirror,' update- By Patricia Garber (Guest Blogger)

Good morning to all you "Man in the Mirror" supporters! I hope your day went well.

Before we get to far, let me introduce myself; I'm the lady behind the book-scene, Dan's ghost writer, Patricia (Trish) Garber.  Since we haven't had a chance to speak until now, let me just say, it's my pleasure to finally meet you.  

Dan has been asking me for some time to share how this project came about--from my point of view--and he suggested I do it in the form of a blog, and do it today!  And because he's the boss, and I aim to please, I thought I'd hijack his site for just a wee-bit and give you a little update, talk about how we got started.

If you've been watching any of Dan's Facebook pages or the blog on a regular basis, and I'm assuming you do since you're here now, then you know we've now been working on the project for the past 12 months.

It's a lot of work--work that we have both enjoyed and thrived on. It's also been a challenge, as the struggle of geography becomes a reality with Dan living on the East Coast and me on the West. Devices like cell phones, Skype, and Facebook have been over used--pause for a 1980's slang use here--to the max! But this book would not be happening without the aid of them, that's for sure.

I've spent a lot of much needed sensory-time in Dan's world, traveling to the East Coast just about once every month.  As Dan's writing partner, it's helped for me to see, feel, smell, and in some cases even taste Maryland. From The Capital in DC to Baltimore and Ocean City, MD, to his home town in Hagerstown, Dan has taken me on a tour of the happiest times as well as the saddest of his life. I have to say, stepping out of one's own life to plunge into another allows for one to realize how alike we all are. How our struggles, though varying as they may be, are often parallel.

Though this is a non-fiction story, Dan and I have approached the project from a storytelling perspective, choosing to write the manuscript in a format similar to fiction. There's dialog, both internal and external, and the landscape of the journey is written in a descriptive manner, which we hope will allow the reader to immerse him/herself in the moment. We want you to feel as Dan felt, cry as Dan has cried, and most importantly, soar with him in the end. 

And the best part: It's 100% true!

I ask you: Is there anything more inspiring than the good guy beating the odds? Speaking as just another fellow human being--not likely!

I have to say, just like many, Dan's story has given me a renewed hope in the endurance of one's soul. To watch any man, or women for that matter, hit bottom, lose their identity, and then rise up from an unthinkable darkness--not only in one piece but spiritually stronger and with no signs of bitterness is--. WOW. I seriously can't think of a word good enough, which is sad and slightly pathetic, since words are what I do. But really, doesn't it make you want to put on your big girl panties (boxers for you guys) and kick life right in the *&*?

With all that said, there's no doubt that God chose me to help Dan share his story. However, it might surprise you to know that I did not accept the task right away. See, creative people tend to be very insecure with their talents--unless you're Nora Roberts or Stephen King! We often limit ourselves, unnecessarily, and that's exactly what I did when Dan first called me.

I can't possibly write this, I don't know the first thing about writing real life truths, I told myself and Dan. What he needed was a nonfiction writer, I said. Someone who knew what they were doing.  Besides, I'm far too busy with other projects. I have no time.  

God had other plans.

Before I knew it, I couldn't sleep at night. Dan's journey spun inside my head; complete with story flow, chapter titles and even subtitles. When I did sleep, I dreamt about writing, struggling to find a way to fit fiction--what I was used to--into a nonfiction format. Nothing made sense, as fiction, memoir, and nonfiction were not the same apple to me. One couldn't possible fit inside the other, could it?

I'd wake, restless and exhausted, and race for my computer (Thank God for Google Search). Could I write a memoir like I did fiction with character building (heroes and heroines), a story arc, suspense and so forth? Were these ideas in my head really transferable? If it was, I had it made! And it only took me a few minutes to discover the construction could be much the same--if we wanted it to be.

Coincidence? I didn't think so. In fact, this was getting far too creepy, even for me--the chick who writes stories about angels and demons--which is saying something. So, after a few days--yeah, I'm a bit hard headed--I finally conceded that I not only could manage this project but that I now had to do this project. God wanted me to, it was just that simple.  

I called Dan the next day.

We've been working on this project, in one form or another, for the better part of year now, and every day I learn something new about the human condition. The resiliency of man's spirit is truly astonishing, and in watching Dan, I've come to realize how connected we all are in our struggles. How the demon's that shackle us--be it pills, alcohol, food--are often one in the same and they start from an early age. So, how does one break free that which binds us? What is the key ingredient missing? Dan talks about it all the time.

LOVE.  FAITH. HOPE.  The Bible says the most powerful of these three is love and I agree. I believe love is the elixir to life, the cure all.  And if Dan's struggle has taught me anything, it's that the most important relationship you can cultivate, second to God, is the one with yourself.  As Dan has confessed many times over; he would not have had the ability to slay that giant until Dan learned to love Dan. His relationship with himself needed to heal first. He had to believe he was worth it.

We could all use a little more faith in ourselves, don't you think? I know I sure could, and thanks to Dan's willingness to share his struggle, I/we don't have to feel alone in the fight. And now we just need to get this love out into the world and bring everybody into our circle of power! I'm honored that Dan asked me to take part in this project--and that God didn't let me say no. 

How far do we have to go?  Well, even now, it seems the manuscript changes every day, as Dan himself tackles yet another hurdle in his journey. Just last week he was running for the first time in 30 years!  And, of course, that means we must go back and write how it felt for Dan to overcome his programming--the I-can't-s, if you will. We'd be lacking if we did not, and there for, the more he overcomes, the more chapters we add, enriching the story.  

Currently, we have 20 well written chapters that shift about like a game of musical chairs--say chapter 12 suddenly works better as chapter 9 and so on. And with Dan approaching his final weight goal; it's clear to us both that the ending has not even yet been written. Not by us anyway.

God has constructed the perfect ending, and we're very close to sharing it with the world. I hope you will stay with us for the duration of the journey, as we work through the editing process and search out a publisher.

You're part of the team now, so, stay tuned. We need you!  


Patricia (Trish) Garber

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Why Walk When You Can Run?

Hello friends. I realize it's been a while since I last wrote, and I hope you can forgive me as I promise to not make it so long of a wait next time. Much is happening in my life--new directions, new people, and new relationships. Life is wonderful and always an adventure. And speaking of life's adventures, I'd like to share a current happening with you. 

(Left: The fields of Antietam Battlefield)

As we all know, the game of life is often a battle, and over these past two years, I have rediscovered Dan (ME). And to my amazement, I have come to even like/love Dan Hawthorne. 

(Bare with me now as I get art-see-fart-see on you and speak about myself in the third person.) 

Because Dan's a good guy, I want only the best for him. I've seen him overcome some big obstacles, which have allowed him to grow as a man, and regain confidence in himself. He deserves to be happy. He's most diffidently on his way, however, he still has a long ways to go and there are many challenges he has yet to face. But he understands that with God's help, he will conquer them. He will make it happen. 

(OK, although therapeutic, that was a bit creepy so lets just sit down and have a normal chat like old friends.)

Every day, I have to push myself to try new things, and in doing so, I've learned more and more about myself.  I've discovered my once overweight and under-spirited self can actually do a lot more then I'd ever imagined. Yet, even still, renewed thinking does not come easy for me. Though I've lost well over 330 pounds, I find that I often think like a 625 pound man. When I see stairs, I instantly wonder: Where's the escalator? When I order food, I fret it will not be enough! This journey has not come without it's challenges, both physically and emotionally, but my newest obstacle--the tackling of fears and reprogramming of thoughts--is proving to be my hardest yet.

No more--I can't.  I want to hear--I will try.  

So, as most of you know, I'm in the process of writing a book with my author and partner in crime Patricia Garber (a.k.a Trish to those who love her). Well, recently, on one of her visits, we went out for a walk around our (Maryland's) beautiful Antietam Civil War Battlefield, just outside of Hagerstown--where I live. 

It was a warm clear morning, and as we're walking, Trish was busy giving me one of those writing 101 lessons. You now the kind meant to help new writers (Me) learn how to use all five senses, by asking them what they smell and what they hear, and then request they write about it later.

(The first time she did this, I thought, I got this one. This is easy. Then you actually start to talk about what the other person is hearing and feeling, and you realize you missed more than you think! Try it some time, you'll be amazed.)

Anyway, as we'd been walking for quite a distance, and the road around the park seemed to go on forever, I becoming a bit worried. I could see no end in sight, and I mean, I'm in pretty good shape but I still have some ankle issues that act up and walking on hard surfaces can be difficult. So, right away, my old way of thinking took over and I began to worry that I  was pushing myself to hard. That I was too out of shape to finish the walk. 

Trish, unaware of my condition, kept walking, talking, and I just kept following--heart racing.  After awhile, we had stopped at an old cemetery along the route and some tourists from NYC were there. They looked not just at us but behind us, as if pondering something important. Then asked why we were walking when most drive? The park is over 11 miles, they said. Did we know that? 

Good question!! 

"I don't think this road winds back around to the visitor center, Trish." The old me questioned whether I could go the distance but my author just shrugged it off with a quick, "We'll be fine," and kept going.

Lord help me!!  

 As my anxiety rose, I distracted myself by sharing my story with the chatty tourists and giving out a card or two. ( I hope they're reading this now!) With my eyes on the road up ahead, and how it curved away from our final destination my mind continued to spin with horrible doubts. Questions like, Can I even make it? What if Trish has to walk back alone, get the car and then come and get me? Because the big guy can't make it!!!! OMG. Shoot me now!

I tell you, when these fears kicked in, it transported me back by two years and all my old insecurities haunted me. Instantly, I was living in the days when I would have my wife (at the time) scout out restaurants with larger than average booths--just so that I could fit!  And when this craziness happens, the only option one is faced with is to force one's self to focus on the now and not the then. You have to ask you're how, how do you really feel?

I feel strong--that's the now not the then talking. I feel healthy, like I could walk a marathon-- that's for sure the now and not the then!  I feel great so great in fact that I could run a marathon. 

So, if this was how I truly felt, what was holding me back? ME! My mind not my body. I realized I'd changed my body but I had not changed my thinking. Now was the time to do something about that.

Run, run, run, the thought began to spin.  And as we walked a bit further, I could now see the road winding back to the right, back towards the main road and the visitors center. As if reading my internal thoughts, with out a word Trish picked up the pace and I instantly followed.

Run, run, run. Could I really do this?  After all, it wasn't so long ago that the mere act of walking was a task for me. The idea of me running would never have entered my mind, and in fact, I would never have even considered it possible--until now (wink). 

As we continued at a fast pace walk, enjoying the beauty of Antietam and the spicy scent of the exotic plant species growing in the West Wood area, just north of Dunker Church (Writer 101. I'm catching on!), I could finally see the finish line. I walked a little faster.  This time, Trish followed me. Sensing she wanted to go a little faster still, and since I'd come this far, I thought, what the heck and gave it a little extra effort. I began a real slow jog, and again, Trish followed. 

 I felt no pain, no strain. My body just did as I asked of it!

Good LORD above I'm jogging! I was actually jogging. I hadn't jogged in thirty plus years and now here I was doing it  at the Antietam Battlefield. Excited, I began to explain to Trish what a huge day this was for me and that she was actually taking part in something I thought I would never do again. I'm not only jogging but I'm jogging and talking at the same time! I didn't even realize I had such stamina and I was so amazed and so happy that soon that slow jog wasn't enough. I wanted to give it all I had!  

Completely out of the blue, and with absolutely no fear, I sprinted to the end of the road. I was running!  I was on top of the world. I felt like a gazelle running in the park. I had achieved yet another milestone in my journey. What a wonderful amazing moment that was, a moment I will never forget. (Thank you Trish for being part of it. I'm glad I did not share it alone.)

Looking back over these past two years, there have been many exciting milestones and events. And as I'm sitting here typing this, I am a bit teary eyed. To think, just two years ago, I was ready to pack it in and face my maker. I honestly never thought I would see or feel happiness again. I never thought I would appreciate life and all the wonderful beauty it can offer us. Not so long ago walking took all the effort I had, and even then I could barely get from my house to the car without the help of a cane. Now, here I am telling you--I ran. I RAN! Can you hear what I'm telling you friends? I RAN! What an amazing gift good health can be. I am such a happy and very lucky man. 

Please, never give up on yourself and always believe that you can achieve what once seemed unreachable. That anything is possible. 

And since I love movie quotes, I'll end this blog with the only quote that comes to mind: "Yo Adrienne, I did It!"