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In like a lion... out like a lightbulb?

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Twisting old sayings can be fun, and it can make a point in these little self-pep talks. The old saw about March kind of describes my May.

May 1st was the half marathon. It was an incredible achievement high. The rest of the month has been pale by comparison, and I think that's part of my current motivational slump. I truly have been battling the "is this it? Is that all there is? Is this where the turnaround point happens?"

Having observed the phenomenon of burnout, I've been trying to avoid putting on another athletic goal too quickly. Or any other kind of goal, too quickly, for that matter. I feel... fatigued, perhaps? Tired of the fight? Yet I still need to take care of myself.

I have observed Spark folks come and go over my two years of pretty consistent activity here. Get to a point, get complacent, get bored or discouraged, leave... and later return with a new name, or even the same name and a restart. This is something I have done in the past with efforts at health and fitness. I have a tendency to ask "what's next?" And then drop what was taking time to play with some shiny new purpose, unrelated to self-care.

However, I have learned this about myself: I need to keep conscious focus on health and fitness. Shameful as it is to admit, these habits do *not* naturally retain themselves in me. If I stop putting focus on it, I regain weight while eating like a crazy woman.

I have never captured the turning point on paper. It usually starts with the cessation of writing about it. This time, I'm writing about it. It is at the point of success. It is at the point of doing well. I don't think I'm alone here. I'm most familiar with how it feels on the inside... but I've watched it from the outside, too. I'm not the only weight cyclist in the room, and I know it.

I gave myself May to *not* have a goal, to have rewards (non-food) and active fun. Now I'm back to basics. I shall not burn out. I shall, this time, change the light bulb, instead of letting it remain dark and cold.

June is a new month. It's going to be a great month, fellow Sparklers! We shall "make it so." emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ELSEEBEE 5/31/2011 5:42PM

    The secret to Spark is making it all about changing your lifestyle. Two years ago I couldn't imagine not going to Wendy's for a hamburger. Now the idea just grosses me out! But look at nature-some days it's sunny and some it rains. We have to all just remember to stay on the journey, no matter what the bumps, obstacles and detours we encounter. My big lesson- learn to love myself and forgive myself when I do mess up!

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KALIGIRL 5/31/2011 12:36PM

    Great blog - what a wonderful way to keep yourself on track. I fell off the strength-training wagon @ Christmas and can't seem to find my way to the path. (Your fabulous end of the month picture may incent me?)

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DRB13_1 5/31/2011 10:58AM

    Half marathon in May was MORE than enough of a goal...
Here's to changing light bulbs and a GREAT JUNE! I'm with you! emoticon

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_LINDA 5/31/2011 10:19AM

    I only changed my name as it was a struggle to keep up with so many people, comments, and friend adds with my two finger typing and slow connection. I am in it for the duration. I am not and have never been a goal setter. I get up every morning and just do it! Its not easy, and with the pain not much fun at times. But I seem to be able to stick with it. It sounds to me Barb, like you do need to be a goal setter and have a purpose or something to look forward to since you say these healthy habits aren't sticking with you or feeling natural.. For me, I hate deadlines. I like to do things on my own time and at my own pace. Its not laziness, but adapting to my condition. I work hard on my good days, and take it easier on my bad. You do a lot of thinking, and you share those excellent thoughts with us in blogs. You must put that sharp brain of yours to work on how you can stick to, and most important, enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. You need to scour the recipes pages and find healthy food you can really enjoy (so the unhealthy stuff is not giving you its siren call all the time)and you need to look for physical activities that are fun and challenging for you and not seem like drudging work. You can do this Barb, you have an active mind..

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SUNNY332 5/31/2011 10:01AM

    Here's to changing light bulbs.

Great Blog, Barb.

Hugs, Sunny

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 5/31/2011 9:39AM

    I think you hit the nail on the head with this one. I've never left SP completely, but I recently backed WAY off. And I found myself heading towards what I refer to as "FlounderLand." I'm coming back a little more consistently and reading more blogs, and it's amazing what a difference just that little bit makes in my mindset and determination.

I think you're wise not to put too much pressure on yourself for the athletic goals when you were feeling burned-out. But staying consistent with SP and having other goals with non-food rewards makes me think that you've broken that destructive cycle Barb. Way to go!

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BUGGYS 5/31/2011 8:59AM

    Love this blog, Barb! I am back at WW for the 11th time and vow to finish what I've get to goal and stay there and yes, it will continue to be a lifelong committment on my part!

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DEBRA0818 5/31/2011 8:28AM

    Speaking as one of the recyclers, I can say that this is so -- here I am starting week 4 and feeling just as emotionally hungry for food as ever but determined to stick it out and continue even so. Considering that this has to be a life long focus or it doesn't work, it is not surprising that only about 3-5% of people can lose substantial weight and keep it off. It's hard work and, for some of us, maybe it never gets any easier.

We hang in there anyway.

Comment edited on: 5/31/2011 9:39:30 AM

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SLENDERELLA61 5/31/2011 8:14AM

    Great blog!! You are definitely not alone here. Here's to changing light bulbs!!! -Marsha

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MSLZZY 5/31/2011 8:09AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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HOT4FITNESS 5/31/2011 8:00AM

    We are allin this for the long haul, let's do it and accomplish great things together!!! I look forward to hearing all about your june accomplishments. Good luck!!

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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.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BUGGYS 5/31/2011 8:57AM

    For me, it's always been about family and friends...eating is 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 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.


  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.


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

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DRB13_1 5/29/2011 3:10PM


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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.


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.


  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 is up to me.

I know I am my own worst enemy at times.

Thanks for a great post.


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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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