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"Taking a Swing at Weight Loss - Update #13" 

12 October 2001

To Those Who Care and Embrace Me as a Loved One or Friend, 

It is late Friday afternoon and I, along with a few other wandering pilgrims, sit atop a lichen covered granite rock at the Summit of Cadillac Mountain.  As part of the Acadia National Park in Maine, it is at the NE tip of our country and is the highest point on the U.S. Atlantic seaboard.  I feel privileged as one of a handful of honored guests who are the first in America to witness the setting of the sun today.  I watch as another day slips into extinction as evidenced by rays of brilliant light piercing puffs of white and silver clouds suspended in
the skies above.  I am surrounded by trees so rich in color it is as if buckets of paint were dropped from heaven splashing over what once were trees of pure bright green.  Trees that are now ablaze in scarlet red, rich orange, bright yellow and royal purple blend in with the firs retaining their green coats of consistency.  As the sun fades and light slowly gives way to dark, I am mesmerized by God's glory and my heart so overflowing with joy pushes tears of thanksgiving and praise from my eyes.  The rays of the sun's light are scattered in these tears of gratitude as I marvel as such divine handiwork.  I have found deeper peace and contentment than I have previously known.  To God be the glory for the things He is doing in my life and for allowing me the means to behold such beauty.

Arriving in Maine today I realize that from Key West in Florida, Sitka in Alaska and my home in San Diego, I have now been to every corner of the continental USA, from sea to shinning sea!  My van has reliably provided over 30,000 miles of service through 47 of 50 States with only Nevada,  Utah and Hawaii left to visit since starting this adventure on April 1st.  Along the way, 180 pounds of extra stored fat have melted off my body with only 57 pounds left to go before reaching my target weight of 230. On Monday October 1st, I reached my baseball milestone when I walked through the gates of Shea Stadium, the 30th and final Major League Baseball Park on my ballpark tour.  I have actually seen 103 regular season games which I guess makes me a 103/30 fan.  Wonder if that might be a baseball fan record?  And what a memorable season its been for baseball.   Tight division races in the National League,  Barry Bonds breaks sport's most coveted record(saw 8 of the homeruns live), the Seattle Mariners tie the all time season record for wins, Tony Gwynn and Cal Ripken say goodbye and Rickey Henderson breaks two important records and reaches the 3,000 hit plateau. Its been a wonderful thing to share games with so many family and friends while baseball also provided a practical distraction from the hunger pains and "foodlust" that come with the very aggressive diet I am on.

The first week of October was spent at the rescheduled baseball games from the week of the tragedy.  Attending them in NY at the homes of the Yankees and the Mets, it was wonderful to witness the tone and demeanor of the crowds.   Enthusiastic singing of the National Anthem, God Bless America (in place of "take me out to the ballgame") and Glory Glory Hallelujah added a spiritual and patriotic dimension to the gatherings in NY I had never previously experienced.  They often felt like patriotic pep rallies with crowds chanting "USA! USA!" and waving flags like it was a July 4th parade!  The first game of the week I got to share with my dear friend Willy Foster.  Willy and I were medical school classmates and have done medical mission trips together to South Africa, the Philippines and Mexico.  He and his dear wife Elena have adopted two precious little girls from China and I had such a great time catching up with them and getting to know little Joy and Jasmine.  Willy is an emergency room physician at Lincoln Hospital in the heart of the Bronx and is thriving in the midst of a chaotic inner city environment.  Next, was Albert Sirinidies a life long friend and one of the groomsmen in my brother Paul's wedding this past May.  My cousin George Alexopoulos who is a high school student with ambitious goals in life had fun with me at my 101st game.  The oldest companion of the year was Mr. George Hawxwell.   A 91 year old long time Met fan who had never seen a Met game at Shea, joined me for my second to last game.  He is a WWII Veteran and a very humble and Godly man that was my Sunday School teacher many years ago.  My last game I attended with Nick Yphantides my cousin with the same name as both of us are named after our deceased paternal grandfather.  We had lots of hearty laughs just like we were kids again though part of me was quite remorseful with the realization that the regular season of baseball had suddenly come to an end.  An extra sports bonus was the chance to attend an exciting Giants football game with my cousin Gus and my cousin-in-law Tommy along with a couple of their friends.  Tommy who is quite the chef, always puts out a gourmet spread during the pre-game tailgate ritual and boy was it tough taking in the sights and smells without diving into the food headfirst.

This past week has been a break from a break of sorts.  I decided to skip the first round of the baseball playoffs and instead head to New England alone for some time of contemplation and prayer.  This escape from reality is ending soon and so I felt like it would be a good time to reflect and integrate all I have experienced and learned over the past 6 1/2 months.  And what a strategic time to be here!!!  Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine are splendid landscapes of art this time of year.  I have enjoyed lots of hiking and driving through many miles of colorful fall foliage.  There has been much to pray and think about as there is much uncertainty with regard to the details of what I will be doing when I return home just before Thanksgiving.  I do know that after loosing half of myself physically that I will need to re prioritize how I spend my time and the amount of effort I put into physical fitness and activity.  Your prayers on this specific issue are so deeply appreciated. This is only the first part of what is sure to be a long struggle to maintain the weight loss I have been blessed with thus far.

And so, I sit atop this majestic summit soaking it all in.  I remain thankful.  The sky is almost completely dark now and were it not for the light of my screen, I could not even see the keyboard of my laptop to continue typing.  Must look silly sitting here with the glow of a battery powered laptop in the dark.  Tonight I will go to sleep early as tomorrow I will return here before dawn to be the first in the country to witness the sun rise on a new day.  Its so peaceful and calm at these heights and yet many in the world below are troubled with all the uncertainty our society now faces.  Vulnerable hearts in America are seized with fear and anxiety with the new threats that evil doers are making against us.  Hate cannot win against hope.  Gazing upward, we can find our hope.  In times like these we need the true hope and comfort which for me comes only from Christ.  That hope is certainly the foundation of my life.  As the sun will rise and shine bright over this summit spot again soon, so too may we allow the Son to rise in our lives and shine bright to those around us.  "You are the light of the world.....Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."   Matthew 5: 14a&16. 

Striving to be a light and half the man I once was,

dr. Nick

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