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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!


  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.

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.


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.

emoticon emoticon

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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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TURCOTTEP 5/26/2011 8:12AM


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The desire and the doing...

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

There is a lot to be said for the desire to be better than we are at any given moment. It's part of the stress that moves us to actually *do* something about it.

There is something also to be said for looking at the moments in our lives that we regret, or even the patterns of behavior that disappoint us. Without looking at it, how can one even begin to formulate a plan of change, training, or improvement?

But there is little point in staying there in the place of regret for too long. The past is the past and cannot be changed. The future is an unfulfilled promise. We have only this moment... but if we have a plan, a strategy, a goal to go with our desire... this moment can lead to a brighter future.

Yesterday's sadness was a good part regret over my own behavior and certain behavior patterns over my lifetime. I'm a slow burner, people. I appear to be so laid back and tolerant (to myself) and then out of the blue, something will trip my trigger: usually associated with a perceived injustice toward other people that I have chosen to care about. Definitely if anyone questions my motives! And once in a great while when I'm just plain tired of always being the dependable one.

I had such an episode on Sunday, and I found myself lingering over the analysis of it Monday and even into Tuesday, when it settled with this horrible cloud of sadness over my own inadequacy! And when one is already focused on how inadequate one is (and we all fall short, so says the Bible)... it's easy to pile on more and more as your day and the normal pressures of life occur.

In "the old days"... this kind of thing would lead to days, weeks, months of self-abuse with food. Which allowed me the pattern of transferring my disgust with ANYTHING ELSE to disgust with my overeating!

How much better to let the real issue come to the surface, be faced, accepted, a plan for it brought forward... and soothe myself in ways less self-destructive or abusive. When you read that sometimes the people who most need love are those who seem the least lovable? How about we start applying that to ourselves?

I am pleased with how yesterday turned out. I hope to move forward loving myself, warts and all, and accept that the desire to be better is mother to the ability to do it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THISYEARSMODEL 5/28/2011 12:37AM

    What a beautiful, powerful blog. You rock! emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 5/26/2011 8:15PM

    "In "the old days"... this kind of thing would lead to days, weeks, months of self-abuse with food. Which allowed me the pattern of transferring my disgust with ANYTHING ELSE to disgust with my overeating!"

That statement was my "aha moment" of the month! Oh, how I've missed your blogs. You are such an insightful woman and I really enjoy your blogs.

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MSLZZY 5/26/2011 12:03AM


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MTULLY 5/25/2011 2:05PM

    Very insightful. Life is always a work in progress, and you are moving right along!

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KALIGIRL 5/25/2011 1:45PM

    "accept that the desire to be better is mother to the ability to do it"
So true - glad to hear you've worked through your low period - sorry I wasn't here to offer more support.
You are one in a million, Barb emoticon

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ELSEEBEE 5/25/2011 10:17AM

    I think many of us were raised to feel like failures if we didn't live up to others' expectations. My mother used food as a measure of how much we loved her ("No second piece of cake- you don't love me!") I am having to learn to love myself and show that love with something besides food. Your blog was something I really needed to read and I'll soend some time today reflecting on it.

Thank you for being such a wise woman and sharing that wisdom with the rest of us!

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_LINDA 5/25/2011 10:15AM

    Nothing you can do about the past, what is done is done, and its just time to get over it and move on. The main focus should be what are you going to do for yourself today? Try to treat yourself with dignity, respect and gentleness. Treat your body with love, give it plenty of good nutrition and exercise. Like everything else, you have to make it a habit of loving yourself. One small step at a time. Treat yourself to something special today and enjoy it to the fullest!

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DEBRA0818 5/25/2011 10:14AM

    I think you hit upon a key element for a lot of compulsive overeaters and obese people -- it feels easier to transfer disgust, anger and despair to ourselves for overeating or being fat than it is to let them hit their intended target. But of course, you are also right that solving things as an adult is ultimately much more satisfying. Right on, Barb!!!!

emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 5/25/2011 7:54AM

    Profound and wise and practical too: self-soothing with food compounds the regret!

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MIZCATHI 5/25/2011 7:08AM

    I agree that regret is something we should not allow ourselves to wallow in. But sometimes do I want a do over! Still, I am glad you wrote this blog, thoughts I have had many times. Like you, I am also reinventing myself. And like you, I cannot go back there. I must move forward and achieve my goals.

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REJ7777 5/25/2011 6:33AM

    "I hope to move forward loving myself, warts and all..." Me too. But it's not easy to do because I was raised with the teaching that only perfection (no warts!) is acceptable. It's a lifelong challenge to accept myself "warts and all".

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I can say I am glad it was a work day

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Because it was a work day, my food was packed and structured for me. Habit is our friend in this regard. Despite that horrible cloud of "sad", I packed it.

I was feeling pressure and anxiety associated with work, and the sad combined with that... but work is a great tonic... because you are *doing something* about the feelings. I made sure to take my break walks, during which I consciously breathed, paying attention to the fight/flight response to the feelings. Breathing is a good thing... in for four counts, hold for four counts, exhale for eight. Very calming.

Feelings *do* fade over time. When I got home, I "did something" about one of the sources of the sadness... once I figured out what it was. And I decided to cut myself some slack for being human.

I'm on my way to being "me" again! emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DEBRA0818 5/25/2011 12:24AM

    Glad to hear you're feeling better, Barb!


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MNTWINSGAL 5/25/2011 12:21AM

    Sounds like it was a tough day....and I'm sorry for that. But you are a bootstraps" kind of gal, and tomorrow will be better, I'm sure.

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MSLZZY 5/24/2011 11:39PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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REJ7777 5/24/2011 9:43PM

    I see that you chose alternatives other than food for coping with your sadness! emoticon

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_LINDA 5/24/2011 9:07PM

    Great ideas for coping strategy! I always found being in motion relieves stress, anxiety and helps with the pain. Hope you get a good night's sleep and that tomorrow is a better day for you!

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LJCANNON 5/24/2011 8:51PM

    emoticonI am still amazed at how much good those 'Little Walks' do for my psyche. There truly is something therapeutic about putting one foot in front of the other.
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 5/24/2011 8:01PM

    There is nothing like feeling like you again . . . and I like your suggestions. Having a high pressure period at work too, and I appreciate your suggestions for coping with it: little walks sound like a great idea!!

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Empty house syndrome - reprise

Monday, May 23, 2011

When my son was deployed overseas, he came home on leave for 15 days, about mid-way through the deployment. It was harder putting him back on the plane to return to his duty than it was putting him on to go the first time.

I'm kind of having a reprise of that kind of feeling with the pet-free home. When the dog had to be put down in early March, there was this sense of emptiness to the house. I made my son promise not to take me to any shelters or rescue places or pet shops for the next year, so that I could adjust, assess, and make a conscious decision about whether I want the work of another pet.

However, I didn't say I wouldn't help out with HIS pets! And of course, regular readers have seen the fun I had hosting the two kitties that are my fur-grandkids. Their regular humans came to collect them on the way home from the airport (see, I'm not the ONLY one attached to them)... and the house suddenly felt emptier than it had before they came.

So, once again, I have to establish my firm resolve to not rush out and fill that void! And it seems harder than it did with the dog. It's Monday, so back to work is the best strategy.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THISYEARSMODEL 5/28/2011 12:53AM

    I so understand the feeling of the empty house...When our beloved kitty (she was really so much more than that) passed away at age 21, her presence had been so full, and the house felt so empty! I told everyone to make me wait at least a year before going to a shelter. When and if your heart is ready, you'll know, and I'm glad the grandkitties can help, even if it hurts when they go back home. emoticon

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REJ7777 5/24/2011 7:35AM

    I can see where the house would feel pretty empty now that the kitties are gone. I know that you spent a lot of time and energy making them feel safe and comfortable.

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_LINDA 5/23/2011 6:21PM

    You are looking at it in sensible way. Pets are wonderful, but are a lot of work, even cats. My Mom decided not to get another dog, as her and her husband are simply too old to look after one 24/7. She did rescue a cat and does get enjoyment out of her. There is not as much interaction with a cat like there is with a dog. You have your dog's attention 100 % of the time, but cats will take you or leave you at their leisure. But cleaning up a litter box all the time isn't much fun. And all that cat fur all over everything, their fur flies everywhere and unlike dogs, they get up on counters, tables and just about anything they can reach that is high!! I think baby sitting them once in a while is a great compromise!

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MSLZZY 5/23/2011 5:31PM

    Pets are wonderful but it is so hard to lose them. They leave such a void. HUGS!

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BUGGYS 5/23/2011 2:50PM

    I had three dogs and had to put my big guy (140lbs.) down in February...that left me with my two little guys. I loved the big one to death and still miss him, especially on our walks but I don't miss the dog hair and the big land mines he left in the back yard! I will never have a house without a pet and you will know when the time is right to add another, Barb...or, maybe not.I have always had a pet to come home to even when I had to put one down so I haven't felt the empty nest syndrome...when my kids left, I still had my daycare and when I retired from that, well, I know love watching 5 grandkids. 4 days a week!!! :)

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ANDI571 5/23/2011 11:05AM

    After our dog passed, we got a cat and I love him to death. I love dogs, but have to keep telling myself how much work they are on taking out (especially during the snow), having people watch them while on vacation. At least with the cat, he pretty much takes care of himself. I love the company he gives. Not sure if something happens to him what I will do. I can't imagine not having a pet though. They are a ray of sunshine.

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WHIPPEACHZ 5/23/2011 10:48AM

    I admire your resolve, as for me a life without pets is a place I don't ever want to live... like children the work is the payment for the pleasure. They give me laughs and love all day long.

Hope you have a great day at work.

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SUNNY332 5/23/2011 10:37AM

    Probably best to head back to work.


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DEBRA0818 5/23/2011 9:08AM

    I admire your resolve Barbara, especially in view of the fun you had watching and playing with your son's cats, and the triumph you had of seeing them relax with you. When and if you decide to have another pet, it will be exactly the right time for both of you.

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MARVEEME 5/23/2011 8:11AM

    Yup...back to work is the BEST strategy. Fun as it was, you've made your decision to maintain your freedom for now. Enjoy the best of BOTH worlds without giving in to filling a temporary void. You know it's for the best!

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Antonica takes a turn

Sunday, May 22, 2011

We've been here three days, now. My brother, Kalimdor is a plotter against the humans. I am a one-human cat. That human is my Dad. He wasn't even in my life until I'd been living with Mommy for months. He came home wearing this funny looking thing they call a uniform... all speckled colors so he blends in when he's outside. I adopted him as soon as I realized that as chunky a cat as I am, he will pick me up, put me on his shoulder and carry me around so I can see things from his tall vantage point.

I am still mostly hiding from that grandma person. But I do come out to chase the laser spot that dances. I don't know how it followed us to her house, but I have to chase that thing away every day... several times! Grandma keeps muttering about how I need to go on a kitty Spark program and then that spot shows up and I MUST chase it.

My brother is exploring the house... he even went up the stairs to all those closed doors, and down the stairs to look at the closed doors there, too. The first night I found a place to hide where grandma couldn't find me but while she was sleeping I snuck back to the under couch-cave. But, hate to admit it, both of us have succumbed to purring for the Grandma person.

And we have discovered that the food dish refills... just like at home! Yesterday a funny ringing sounds started the Grandma talking to someone who wasn't here. She said that we were fine, and that she had outlasted our sulk, whatever that means. I kind of suspect she was talking to dad, she called him "Son".

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CONCHA77 5/25/2011 8:42AM

    Great blog, Barb. You are Funny. Thanks.

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LJCANNON 5/24/2011 8:54PM

    LOL, Kitty Spark Plan!! Have you SparkMailed Chris Downie?
emoticonI knew that they couldn't resist you forever.

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MSLZZY 5/23/2011 5:33PM

    How cute!

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KASEYCOFF 5/23/2011 12:00PM

    Barb, this is priceless! Love the cat's-eye-view, LOL!

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SUNNY332 5/23/2011 10:37AM

    Love it!

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REJ7777 5/23/2011 3:23AM

    You've won their hearts! After all, what kitty can resist a laser? emoticon

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    Wow, these cats are frighteningly smart! emoticon Glad to hear they're doing great! emoticon

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ELSEEBEE 5/22/2011 4:22PM

    Love to read blogs from the kitties! It seems they're really growing on you- how will yoou be able to send them home? emoticon

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_LINDA 5/22/2011 11:17AM

    Neat photo! My Mom's cat really loves chasing the laser light too! Sometimes its the only thing she will get moving to.
So glad they are setttling in..

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DEBRA0818 5/22/2011 11:01AM

    Such beautiful kitties too -- they must be worming their way into your affections as you clearly are theirs.

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MNTWINSGAL 5/22/2011 10:47AM

    Barb, the kitty-blogs are hilarious. You are definitely tuned into their minds!

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