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Even family gatherings have changed

Monday, May 30, 2011

For me, the focus of family gatherings were of course the people, but seriously, for a compulsive eater? They were about the food! The rich, decadent, bad for me food that holidays gave me an excuse to consume in quantities: while preparing it (don't ya know the cook has to taste it, just to make sure it's OK), of course at the event (someone prepared this special, they'll be offended if you don't show a hearty appetite and rave over their offerings), and then after (I used to make extra just so I could savor it afterwards, too).

And then there were the years of living in terror of food! And of the people, too! When I hadn't seen them in a while, and I would have gained weight, and I didn't want them to see me as a failure (yet again). So I would eat before, in anxiety, during I'd be "good" for show, and after, back in the privacy of my own kitchen, pile it on full of shame over my perception of my fat!

But now? I just observed this: it is as though there is this peace with who I am and who my loved ones are and that it's all OK. What changed? Wouldn't it be easy to say that now I'm at my "home" weight and have stayed there for almost a year, it's all because of that? But it's not.

It truly is the result of the hard part of losing weight: the mental, emotional, spiritual journey of acceptance and nurturing. It makes even family gatherings different. It allows me to attend, observe, participate and yes, love fully what each and every one brings... their stories, their music, their faces, and the food. In balance. With mindfulness.



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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUGGYS 5/31/2011 8:57AM

    For me, it's always been about family and friends...eating is secondary...you are right on, Barb!

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46SHADOW 5/30/2011 8:21PM

    Its not about the food? I'll have to reprogram myself.

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MNNICE 5/30/2011 2:02PM

    Over the past few years I've come up with new, healthy recipes that surprisingly my family has requested become "tradition."

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_LINDA 5/30/2011 1:58PM

    I am so glad you have made your peace with the family gatherings..Enjoy your holiday!

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MNTWINSGAL 5/30/2011 11:42AM

    I'm so happy that you've found that peace. And now, enjoy your Memorial Day!

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MARVEEME 5/30/2011 10:39AM

    And When You Get the Chance To Sit it Out or Dance, I Hope You Dance!

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 5/30/2011 10:20AM

    Man, can I say "been there/done that". It's funny, but as I was walking today I found myself thinking about my upcoming vacation with my two sisters. I told myself that it's not about the food, it's about the company. Simple concept -- hard to practice for a compulsive overeater. So, that's going to be my mantra through the whole vacation. Will I be perfect? No. But will progress be made? I sure hope so.

What I enjoy about SP the most is that we're able to find people (like you) who have been through the same things. And the different perspectives allows us to open our minds to other ways of thinking about things.

Have a great Memorial Day, Barb!

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DEBRA0818 5/30/2011 9:04AM

    Sounds like we may be in synch on this one Barbara!

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MSLZZY 5/30/2011 8:11AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LINDAJOYWK 5/30/2011 8:09AM

    I can relate with the terror of being seen-I think I would be more"social" if I were
more comfortable in my own skin.

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I - yi - yi!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Three "I" words, along with the classic "I" referring to oneself are on my mind this morning. They are:

"Introspection"
"Identity"
"Image"

Introspection is a process, an activity. Webster's New World dictionary says it is "looking into one's own mind, feelings, etc.; observation and analysis of oneself."

Identity, it turns out, is a fact. The piece I am focusing on is this one "2. a) the condition or fact of being a specific person or thing; individuality, b) the condition of being the same as a person or thing described or claimed"

Image has many nuances, and here's the piece that comes to mind as I contemplate the three "I" words: "4. b) the concept of a person, product, institution, etc. held by the general public, often one deliberately created or modified by publicity, advertising, propaganda, etc."

Identity is who we are. Image is who we are perceived to be. Introspection is the process of self-evaluation that some of us engage in a lot, some a little, but all of us at least at key moments in our life and growth as human beings.

The people who seem to be most at ease to me, are those who accept themselves (identity) and either do not worry excessively about how others see them (image), or feel in harmony with what they see in themselves (self-image).

There is an importance to the external image in an interdependent society. For example, if you are seen as being trustworthy, it is to your advantage. If you are perceived as honest, as a hard worker, as a loyal friend, etc., it truly does help you survive.

Often, I become introspective in moments of quiet between the busyness of life. I also become introspective following achieving a goal, and following disturbing incidents in my daily walk. It becomes particularly disturbing, this process of introspection, if I detect a dissonance between my self-image (my perception of my identity) and how others see me (image as defined above). The process of introspection seeks to resolve this.

The resolution can end up altering my self-image. It can't really change my identity. And it probably will not change my external image (unless I make amends if that is what is needed). I can deny the dissonance, or I can alter my self-image to accept that I can be perceived differently because of some word or action on my part. And I can make attempts to correct any errors on my part. I can grow... but essentially, I am still, and ever will be, me, the identity.

In the end, I have to come to peace with me. I can change my behavior. I can be true to my identity in the process. I can become stronger.

Introspection: Who am I? Why am I here? I am me. I am here because I have something yet to learn, and possibly something to share... my experience, my strength, my hope. My experience tells me that achieving goals is possible. My strength tells me that I (and you) can do this without giving in. My hope is that I can move forward lovingly, kindly, and in harmony with my inner values.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MSLZZY 5/30/2011 8:12AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LEANJEAN6 5/29/2011 6:21PM

    Wow!!!1 Very profound!!---- But---I am a bit like Sunny--- not too deep--but if it feels right, it is right!---- Great blog girl!! Makes yu think!--Lynda

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_LINDA 5/29/2011 5:50PM

    Sounds like you are well on your way to achieving your goals..
Good thought = good actions! Go Barb!

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SUNNY332 5/29/2011 4:19PM

    All harmony is found in God's presence. He made you and knows all about you. If my thoughts are aligned with Him, I am well aware of my purpose in life, and my idenity reflects the same.

Some times, we try to complicate things too much. Keep it simple. You were wholly and wonderfully made in His image and He loves you very much.

Hugs,
Sunny

Comment edited on: 5/29/2011 4:19:46 PM

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DRB13_1 5/29/2011 3:10PM

    profound...

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 5/29/2011 12:08PM

    I think one of the nice things about "maturing" is that we become more comfortable with our identity and are less worried about our image. And that, in part, comes from the ability to slow down and participate in the intropsection. Good blog, Barb.

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GLASSYJEN 5/29/2011 10:51AM

  Thanks so much for sharing this blog...I really needed to hear this!!

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KALIGIRL 5/29/2011 10:29AM

    "My hope is that I can move forward lovingly, kindly, and in harmony with my inner values"
Progress well defined!

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WATERMELLEN 5/29/2011 9:59AM

    Very thoughtful. Introspection often occurs for me when there is a disjunction between image and identity signalling a need for re-Inspection (and perhaps adjustment) of Internal values (two more I words!!)

Because -- Internal is not necessarily Eternal . . .

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Memorial Day, Iris, and allergies

Saturday, May 28, 2011

The iris on my page are my sister's garden. Our grandmother used to keep a similar garden after grandpa died. Grandpa was the real iris afficianado, and she kept them in his memory. Every year on Memorial Day, Dad would drive us to her house, where we would harvest the iris breeds he had been working on when he passed away. We would take her out to the cemetery where we'd place them on his grave.

Then we would return to the house and go through the old photo albums of relatives who had gone on before. The war stories would come out. Especially the one about Grandpa coming home from WWI to read his own death certificate that was sent to his family in error - he was not dead, but taken prisoner, and they got word of his survival shortly before the death certificate arrived. His brother, however, did lose his life in the same battle. This is the story of service men and women: all gave some, some gave all. My thoughts are with all those serving today, as well as with honor to those who have served in the past.

In any case, this time of year the iris are generally in all their glory, so they make a great Memorial Day flower. The lilacs often are in bloom around the same time. And my nose becomes a faucet... but that doesn't stop me from loving them anyway.


Age of Innocence (1952, Historic variety)

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MT-MOONCHASER 6/5/2011 11:06PM

    Our iris should be starting to bloom about now, but with the cold and wet spring we've been having, they aren't ready yet.

Our lilacs are also just getting started with their blooms.

We DO have a great crop of dandelions....

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BESSHAILE 5/29/2011 8:19AM

    Our Iris are done by now but if they bloomed in late May i would put them on the graves of my loved ones too. thank you for this story.

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MSLZZY 5/29/2011 8:11AM

    emoticon emoticon

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DIANNEMT 5/28/2011 3:55PM

    The flowers are beautiful--as is the story about them. Enjoy them and remember the sacrifices--we thank your family!

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BOBF15 5/28/2011 3:17PM

    I agree, iris are a typical Memorial Day flower, I love the blue ones, remind me of freedom which is never free. It has to be purchased again and again, by each generation.

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Some parts of the country call iris, 'flags' what a great reminder.


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REJ7777 5/28/2011 12:46PM

    We owe much to those who served in the armed forces!

The iris are beautiful.

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DEBRA0818 5/28/2011 11:55AM

    Bless those who go out to serve so that many of us can stay here in blissful ignorance and thankful there is at least one day of the year when we are encouraged to pay attention.

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_LINDA 5/28/2011 10:53AM

    Gorgeous iris! Lovely background photo! Ours are not even that much up yet. Just finished leafing out the trees.
Have a good long weekend..

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WATERMELLEN 5/28/2011 10:47AM

    With their sword shaped leaves and rainbow of colours -- as well as the timing of their blooms -- your association of "iris" with Memorial Day reminiscence seems entirely appropriate . . .

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SUNNY1432 5/28/2011 10:40AM

    I was going to comment on your beautiful background the other day. My husband and I are big fans of iris!! Thanks for sharing the irises and the family memories.
Have a wonderful Memorial Day Weekend! emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 5/28/2011 10:01AM

    I love iris' too! Your sister has a beautiful garden.

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FITFABJENN 5/28/2011 9:45AM

    Absolutely beautiful flowers

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MOHAW54 5/28/2011 9:40AM

    Would love to join you, but my eyes are burning too much

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On a more mundane note

Friday, May 27, 2011

Two years on a Friday afternoon I walked into my local Jenny Craig center, to "support" my daughter in law in her choice to try this program out. I was a complete skeptic. If you've been around the blogs a while you've probably seen the reference to multiple efforts over decades to get weight under control.

What I said to the manager of the centre was: "Nothing you have to offer will help me if I choose to go out and buy quantities of food not on your program and consume them. Grocery stores exist. I have a credit card." Which is a truism.

She just smiled and said something to the effect that my knowing this was a predictor of success (or at least that's the way I heard it). Being a good sport, I followed the program, "mostly", and the end result is that here I am, two years later, with considerable success under my belt.

But the success is not because of the commercial weight loss program. Not to bash JC, I have become a believer... it's a great tool in the battle. However, that is the thing about any of them: they are tools. I continue to use them. Just as some readers here use Weight Watchers or any other group in addition to Spark. And I've used many of them over the years.

The key is not the specific tool set: it's inside myself, it's deciding I'm worth a nurturing choice. It's avoiding the trap of thinking the glazed donut is a reward or a consolation prize or something. It's avoiding the further trap of compounding the initial mistake of taking in something that triggers a binge by piling on guilt and continuing it.

"Taking in something" is more far reaching than a food or a bite... what one takes in that triggers a binge is often a thought or a feeling taken to heart. "I'm feeling (fill in the feeling... lonely, anxious, angry, sad)... food will make me feel better."

This morning I observed that breakfast *did* make me feel better. The minute I savored a bite of my steel cut oats with banana and cinnamon and nutmeg, my palate lit up and said, "Yes!" My tummy said pretty much the same, and the lights went on in my head: "I feel better (emotionally)!" And when breakfast was over, I felt satisfied and enlightened. And I was able to say confidently, "this is enough for now."

Eating mindfully... and moving mindfully... and breathing mindfully... not a bad life. The storms can be weathered. Somewhere in this mindfulness is the me that is meant to be. Sometime with this mindfulness, I will find her.

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

REJ7777 5/28/2011 12:38PM

    "The key is not the specific tool set: it's inside myself,..." I agree. The tools are important aids, but that's all they are. The secret to success is "within"!

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THISYEARSMODEL 5/28/2011 12:34AM

    You're just awesome. You really are! emoticon emoticon

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SUNNY1432 5/27/2011 11:48PM

    emoticon blog!! Thank you:)

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RORYLYONS 5/27/2011 5:56PM

    I love your blog...your right on! emoticon emoticon

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_LINDA 5/27/2011 1:14PM

    You are understanding the mechanics of a healthy lifestyle, now all that remains is to just do it! and you can, because you have had enough practice and practice makes perfect or so they say :) I wouldn't want pre packaged foods. I was quite happy to do it with my own choices and my favorites have always been fresh fruit and veggies. I just had to learn to cut out the unhealthy snacks..
Go, Barb, Go!

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DEBRA0818 5/27/2011 10:50AM

    A key element in what you wrote today, Barb, is that food is emotionally satisfying and it should be! It should not be used to solve emotions, but it should be noted that a good meal brings a lot of pleasure with it including, sometimes, a very good mood! Good food, good mood!
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SUNNY332 5/27/2011 9:19AM

    If it is to be....it is up to me.

I know I am my own worst enemy at times.

Thanks for a great post.

Sunny

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 5/27/2011 8:56AM

    This is what I needed to read today. I'm back at JC again and pretty much loving it; however, I had a major trip-up yesterday. I need to learn to get back up immediately and overcome it rather than allow myself to wallow in self-pity. Thanks, Barb!

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KALIGIRL 5/27/2011 8:54AM

    "The key is not the specific tool set: it's inside myself, it's deciding I'm worth a nurturing choice." - hardly what I'd call mundane...

We are worth it!!!
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MSLZZY 5/27/2011 8:44AM

    Very wise-stick to what works.

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WATERMELLEN 5/27/2011 8:28AM

    JC is apparently the highest rated of the commercial programmes for weight loss, sustained . . . but the use of prepackaged foods is a bit of a turn off.

One of the reasons I like Judith S Beck's "Diet Solution" so much is that she shares your view that any healthful diet "works" provided that we change our thinking and learn to "think like a thin person" . . . And she offers the techniques from cognitive psychology to make that happen.

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FITFABJENN 5/27/2011 8:23AM

    As always, you posted such an excellent blog. We are all worth a nurturing choice. Thanks for the reminder.

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TXSUZIEQ58 5/27/2011 8:08AM

    Thanks for your uplifting message!! Keep it up!!! emoticon

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CAM2438 5/27/2011 8:05AM

    You are doing great. You have a good attitude. Keep up the good work!

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Who do you think you are?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The big life question: who am I and what is my purpose on this planet?

Huge question, huh? What does it have to do with Spark?

Spark is disguised as a place to work on nutrition and fitness and healthy habits (which it is)... really is a place to work on LIFE. One of the first things the book "The Spark" has a person do is figure out WHY he or she wants to ... "lose weight" or "eat healthy" or "get more active". That has to do with what is personally important.

What is personally important is all wrapped up in the subject question: "Who am I?" "Why am I here?" "What do I hope to get out of this?"

Spark encourages us to examine our values, our deepest sense of what's important to us. The hardest times in life (for me) are when I question my own assumptions about myself. I don't know about the rest of the world, I'm only one woman. Maybe some people never ask that question.

For me: the large questions and doubts have to be faced at some point, and re-examined from time to time. I have choices about how I handle these times of doubt, same as anyone else. I can choose to numb the thought process for a time: and my usual tool to do this has been food. As I work toward an athletic goal, I can defer the thought process by giving myself a "substitute" goal (like completing a 5K, or the half marathon). Weight loss can be a "substitute" goal or an intermediate one, as well. So can attaining a certain level of physical health. Why? Because they are steps on the path to achieving our purpose in life.

When an intermediate goal is reached, we get back to the big questions of life: Who am I and why am I (still) here? My mom once asked a spiritual adviser this question, and received this answer: "You have something more to learn, or something more to give."

It has been three and a half weeks since the last "finish line". I have kept myself busy, and I have had some little(?) emotional tantrums during this time. For the most part I have weathered them without heading down the road of relapse, but I've felt physically lazy, and emotionally stressed.

I've kept on Sparking. I've blogged or posted status. Because I've learned this: it's important to keep nurturing me physically while I figure out the other parts!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THISYEARSMODEL 5/28/2011 12:35AM

    So true, and beautifully well said. Congrats on your success!!! emoticon

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KALIGIRL 5/27/2011 9:59AM

    I understand today's (5.27.11) blog title now and want to thank you for this post. I have been seriously considering leaving Spark and you have given me another reason to stay.
Namaste my friend emoticon

PS - is the state participating in the 54321Go! LiveWell Challenge?

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MSLZZY 5/27/2011 8:45AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REJ7777 5/27/2011 6:21AM

    "Spark is disguised as a place to work on nutrition and fitness and healthy habits (which it is)... really is a place to work on LIFE."

I listened to an episode of Doctor Oz on the computer last night. He and Suze Orman were talking about the relationship between our finances and our weight, and about how they are related. They taught that we need to be healthy in both areas.

It's amazing how being healthy (or unhealthy) in one area of our life will affect all the other areas.

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PENNYAN45 5/26/2011 10:16PM

    Well, you have asked the biggest question of all. Who are we? And why are we here?

Each of us has to find our own answer to it -- and for some of us, the answer may change over time, as we grow and as our values change.

I am approaching this question not from a religious perspective, but purely as an intellectual exercise. And in that way, the question is: What do I value the most in life?

For a long time now, I have felt that what gives life meaning is:

1) having close meaningful relationships with people; making personal connections with others; giving love and receiving love.

2) making a contribution through service of some kind; choosing to do work that adds value to the world in some way.

3) creating or accomplishing something that is worthwhile as in the arts, the sciences, the social sciences, or just in your own everyday life.

4) learning about the ways of the world and achieving personal growth; realizing your full potential.

I will never have much of an impact on the larger world out there. I will never be famous or well-known for my inventions or discoveries, my leadership or my great talent.
But in the small circle that is my life, I believe that all those things Ive listed above give real meaning to my life.


Barb,
I spent a lot of time thinking about this answer to your question.
So I have decided to post it as a blog on my page as well.

Thanks for getting me thinking about things -- once again.

PennyAn

Comment edited on: 5/26/2011 10:50:11 PM

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WATERMELLEN 5/26/2011 9:19PM

    "You have something more to learn, or something more to give."

Hmmmm. And the process of learning more and giving more is . . . stressful.

But probably not as stressful as arriving at a point when there was nothing more to learn, and nothing more that we could give.

Then we'd REALLY feel kinda useless and bored and . . . yeah.

I liked this blog a whole lot!! Thank you for getting me thinking. Spark is about way more than just weight loss, that's for sure!!



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KASEYCOFF 5/26/2011 2:40PM

    I hear you about the stress, Barb. I've come to believe that stress is Life, that is, an integral part that there's no getting away from. We can't prevent it; we can only learn how to deal with it in ways that best suit ourselves. Kasey's wisdom for the day, lol...

I love the advice that your mother got. Oh, isn't it just so fitting, in so many ways, for everybody--! I think I'll post that in a place where I'll see it often. It's very profound. (IMHO)
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MIZCATHI 5/26/2011 1:09PM

    I am a new spark "friend" and have been reading your blogs for a couple of weeks... and I am so impressed by the questions you ask yourself and the goals you have met. Personally, I've battled obesity for most of my life. I have always loved to exercise - I was one who always felt the benefits and noted them. So when I began dealing with this weight in earnest, this time it was about health. My family needs me, and I was headed for a hard time not only with how slowed down I was, but my diabetes was out of control. Health first, being active second, and third I wanted to reach my best potential... and I wouldn't be able to do that without dealing with health issues and be able to move physically. I sit here today, about a year since I began this in earnest, and feel like a different person. I no longer feel old or sedentary. Now a full life actually feels like a possibility, but I have discovered that the wishes I used to have for my life no longer apply. Why? Because I don't DO what I used to identify myself as. Instead, I exercise, garden, and love to go out and socialize. I no longer have time to read, one of my life's greatest pleasures. I'm too tired at night and fall asleep instantly with book in hand.

As I write this I am discovering that I still have questions that I must ask myself, habits I want to make, and many hills I want to climb!

Thanks for being thought provoking and bother to share those thoughts!

Comment edited on: 5/26/2011 1:10:30 PM

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_LINDA 5/26/2011 12:01PM

    Excellent thoughts and I loved reading this responses to them. All very good ideas and suggestions!
May we all solve why we are here to our utmost satisfaction!

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DEBRA0818 5/26/2011 9:29AM

    Sometimes I think the purpose of my life is just to be who I am (which sounds a lot easier and lazier than it is!) I believe that each person is created to add something unique to this crazy world, and if we open ourselves up to that, we come simply to the truth, which is that your natural self is enough. If I clear away the defenses (including compulsive overeating) that mask my natural self, I believe I will come to be who I was originally created to be, and that will be enough. I may not always see what my purpose is, and I may not always know how I touched someone's life, but I have faith that I am living it.

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SUNNY332 5/26/2011 9:13AM

    When I read your blog, I immediately thought of one of my favorite songs by Bill and Gloria Gaither - I am a Promise...

Take care and know that we all are a Promise and a Possibility to Him.

Hugs, Sunny

I am a promise
I am a possibility
I am a promise with a capital "P"
I am a great big bundle of potentiality
And I am learnin' to hear God's voice
And I am tryin' to make the right choice
I am a promise to be anything God wants me to be.


I can go anywhere that He wants me to go
I can be anything He wants me to be
I can climb the high mountains
I can cross the wide sea
I'm a great big promise you see!


I am a promise
I am a possibility
I am a promise with a capital "P"
I am a great big bundle of potentiality
And I am learnin' to hear God's voice
And I am tryin' to make the right choice
I'm a promise to be anything God wants me to be
Anything God wants me to be!


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ELSEEBEE 5/26/2011 9:06AM

    Well, being very much like you (and celebrating my 2nd Sparkiversary today), I've a thought for you. Every time I've been depressed or just wanted to crawl off and have a pity party, someone on Spark ALWAYS says something to turn me around. A couple of weeks ago I was depressed over the weight I gained during the stress of my house renovations, the lack of desire to get out and start exercising the way I used to, and my turning to food for comfort during stress. Then I "stumbled" onto your page (I think because I was enjoying "Word Congo-line" so much with you). When I read your story, I KNEW what I needed to do. You became my example for what I needed to do. When I was out on that now famous walk (before my fall) I was thinking of all the races you've done and that if I kept working, I could do a race, too.(a secret passion I've always had) Then I went to the Spark Rally and everyone gave me an even bigger boost and more motivation to keep going. When I got home I got the sweetest e-mail from one of the rally "stars" that reminded me of the purpose of my life (I was a teacher) and then another e-mail from someone in my area who suggested I get out and start teaching people in this area about Spark! (I believe there are no "coincidences" in life, just messages!)

So, Barb, you have touched at least one life that I can attest to and who knows how many others. I can't wait to read what you're doing each day and that "Sparks" me on! Take the time to listen to yourself, your body and your heart, and you will know exactly why you're here!
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Carol

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TURCOTTEP 5/26/2011 8:12AM

  yes

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