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Be prepared for the answers when you post...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

When you post a blog on SP, be prepared for a variety of responses: supportive, yes. With advice, yes. And finally, with sometimes surprising insight from the experience, strength and hope of others.

Yesterday I blogged about anxiety related to my housekeeping "failures", as defined by myself. Predictably I got a variety of responses... from pure statements of support / empathy, to suggestions of things to try, to insights for further self-examination. To you all, my thanks. It's humbling to see how this community responds to the needs of one another.

For those few who may be following long-term like a serial... the end result of the day was mixed. Sometimes just blogging feelings helps me deal with them. I did better than I sometimes do, but not perfectly. I did indulge in some self-soothing eating. But I also stopped myself from some of the worse excesses of which I am capable.

I also did not clean like a crazy woman. I did do ordinary weekend chores. And some careful self-examination while pondering some of the responses.

Yes, it's me that does the judging. I have internalized the voices of my grandmother, mother and sister. Why do I care about their opinions? I think I am still seeking their approval! Two of them are dead, the third has mellowed out... but my reaction is now internal.

The suggestions about having someone else help / buddy up led me to contemplate the social aspects of housekeeping, and I went on to think about my childhood, living as part of a family of seven. There was a lot of social interaction in my childhood related to cleaning house, washing dishes, etc.

I once commented to my son that I have observed myself starting to pick up and straighten when he comes over... it somehow makes me feel more comfortable to clean in the presence of others. But it had never occurred to me to actually ASK someone for help... maybe because cleaning my house is my own responsibility. There is a sense that "I should be able to do this on my own" is strong.

Now doesn't THAT sound familiar, fellow Sparkers?! How many of us think we should be able to lose weight on our own? Ah, I see a number of raised hands in the room! emoticon

Maybe this is an area that I need to also give myself some patience on...

So, three reasons to rejoice today: first in the support that comes from this site. Second in that I didn't do as badly in handling the stress / anxiety in my life as I sometimes do. And finally in having a few more insights into another area for future growth and self-acceptance!

Blessings to you all this Sunday.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BRIGHTSPARK7 4/18/2010 7:17PM

    Thanks for following up. Interesting connection you have made between social connections around house-cleaning and the support we give each other around weight issues.

I also vacuumed and dusted yesterday after reading your blog. And have got to enjoy the freshness of the room all weekend. Even though no one was coming over. It was great to do it for myself and the hubs. I learned that just fifteen minutes invested in this made for a much more pleasant weekend.

I like what Debra T says, too. Ultimately, what is important is not what I think, or feel, -- it's what you think and feel about the situation. Do what brings you peace.

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WATERMELLEN 4/18/2010 6:37PM

    Really an interesting blog -- I've never been much of a housekeeper but sure do get that "internal critic" voice more generally . . . gotta remember DEBRA_T's wisdom, "what other people think of me is none of my business"!!

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FRAN0426 4/18/2010 4:54PM

    Glad you were able to keep the eating in check when dealing with the issues of cleaning the house. I came from a home that was spotless at all times, nothing out of place. Complete in deepth cleaning of washing ceilings and walls, shampooing the carpets and more twice a year etc. Do you think my house is that way? It was when I first married and while the clildren were small, but over the years it hasn't gotten that much attention twice a year and I'm not as neat as mom was--but we're just as happy. I tend to get all the rooms done once a year, and everyweek cleaning isn't like how I was brought up either, and thats ok.

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BUGGYS 4/18/2010 4:25PM

    I try to clean once a week...vaccum every day because of the kids and dog hair and my house is clean enough...I have a friend who doesn't really enjoy her home because she is a neat freak and is constantly cleaning it. I enjoy my space and so does my family and that's good enough for me!!!

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LBIMAMMA 4/18/2010 3:43PM

    I too came from a family with siblings, and the work load was shared. I'll have my kids share in chores and while they may need to be asked, they will do it without much angst. My husband is a really a lost cause. Once in awhile he will help out, but to be honest, it just isn't worth it. That being said, my house is clean enough to be healthy and happy :-)

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DEBRA_T 4/18/2010 3:15PM

    I missed your post yesterday, Barb, but whenever I'm tempted to worry about what other people will think of me because of my weight or some other thing that makes me less than a shining example in my own mind, I remember some words of wisdom from the 12-Step programs: what other people think of me is none of my business.

The rest, as you very capably know, is about self-acceptance and deciding what is important to you.

Cheers, Debra
emoticon emoticon

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KASEYCOFF 4/18/2010 3:09PM

    Good insight, Barb: we do indeed try to 'go it alone' all too often. If we don't learn anything else at SP (and I for one surely hope I do, lol...) I hope we learn not just to support each other, but to rely on each other. It is the reaching out that can be so important to our well-being and our growth.

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WALKINGANNIE 4/18/2010 2:55PM

    Glad that you worked through some of the issues and didn't go too overboard on the eating Barb.

A response that you might not have foreseen was that you motivated this friend to do some clearing of clutter! I took a look around our house and wondered how much difference I could make in an hour. To cut the story short, I was pathetically proud when our daughter arrived for Sunday lunch and asked who else was coming because it looked as if I'd done a pre-visitors' tidy up of the kitchen and living room! It helped that I thought of calories burned while I worked.

I will try to remember your cautionary tale and to imagine how the upstairs rooms would fare under the scrutiny of an emergency roofer - or how I would fare in these circumstances.

Hope you continue to feel a bit better about this.


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SLENDERELLA61 4/18/2010 2:23PM

    I appreciate your insights so much. I had never thought about how social house cleaning was when I was growing up and how isolating it is now. When I first married my husband, I cried almost every week end about the housecleaning. It just wasn't what I'd envisioned my life to be about.

I'm not the greatest housekeeper, but, you know, I think I am good enough. At least for the most part.

You are so right, that when you post, you must be ready for the responses. And you are right that most, if not all, are helpful. Take care. Don't judge yourself so harshly. Take care of filth, but don't worry about clutter. Make yourself happy in your space. Make your obsessive self compromise with your more relaxed self. Well, that's my advice. -Marsha

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MSLZZY 4/18/2010 2:14PM

    Sounds like the responses moved you to a neutral zone and yet, amde it possible for you to look at things in a new light and come to a good resolution. Excellent!
At one time, I had a cleaning lady come in once a week and I found I cleaned furiously the
day before because I didn't want to be embarrassed. emoticon
Financial issues helped me decide if I could clean before she came, I could do it on my own very nicely, thank you. Now I pace myself, do what I can when the time allows and live
in relative sanity. A clean house is nice but it isn't a disaster if it is not perfect. It could always
look better but it has been a lot worse LOL!
Here's to future growth and self-acceptance! It's an area that needs improvement in my
life, too!
Have a great day! emoticon emoticon

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Comparisons are death

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Even when we know this, we still do it... why?

The current comparison I'm having trouble with is one I've always been more embarrassed about than even my weight at its heaviest. I'm a lousy housekeeper. I do not take good care of my things. It probably should be no surprise I didn't take good care of my body, either.

I'm getting better about my body, although I still do have those times when I get overwhelmed and neglect it in favor of some other shiny / distracting object / event in my life. But my house and its contents? Not as far along that path.

Night before last we had a rain storm and I had a leak. It was pouring down from the threshold between my bedroom and the hall. That means I'm going to have a roofer come take a look. As it turns out, the roofer is married to a work mate of mine.

And... my house is in a horrible state. Some people have a "junk" room or closet where they throw things? I live alone in a 3-bedroom house. Two of those bedrooms are "junk" rooms.
I have a dog that has done a number on my carpets, too. And like I said, not a good housekeeper.

I had finally got to the point where I sort of forgave myself for not being able to do it all (i.e. everything my dad did to earn a living plus everything my mom did to make a home... come on, SOME of you know what I'm talking about here). But when someone is going to come over and actually see the status of my cluttered home? Ouch.

The fear/anxiety point in this is he sees my house, he says something to his wife, it gets back in the workplace and everyone KNOWS what a horrible housekeeper I am.
Like they couldn't see how my desk is kept at the office, already! It doesn't have to be rational, it's an anxiety thing, right?

Some folks have weight / size issues based on commentary they heard in the homes of their upbringing? I have a soundtrack loop in the back of my head about housekeeping standards... from my grandmother judging the homes of others, from my mother feeling not up to her mother's standards, and from myself!

So, this weekend, I have two choices: try like a madwoman and fail to make my home live up to those standards in the head... or take another giant step down the path to self-acceptance. I will do what I can... but this is who and what I am.

I am the "Aunt Grace" of my generation... the one my grandmother clucked her tongue over. But THAT'S OK! Aunt Grace was a wonderful woman, smart, caring... just not a housekeeper... OK? OK! She had a master's degree in math education and well into her 70's and maybe even her 80's she was tutoring students through their high school math.

Embrace it, Barb! Your own sister may cluck her tongue, too... but you don't really need fixing... you just need acceptance. And not to overeat in reaction to this particular anxiety!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PATRISNA 4/20/2010 7:20AM

I have to agree with KASEYCOFF clean clothes and dishes mean more than passing a "white glove" inspection. DH and I know we are hopeless slobs. We do clean, but it is not a priority.

When my messy house really starts getting to me I always say the aunt's line from the movie Urbancowboy. The Aunt is busy cleaning John Travolta's & Debra Winger's trailer she looks around and says "Ya'all live like pigs!"

I used to have a plate on our door bell that said "Martha Stewart doesn't live here!"


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KASEYCOFF 4/18/2010 3:31PM

    Well for what it's worth, Barb, EYE accept you, messy house 'n' all, lol... I am in many ways just like you, and I don't even have the excuse of working full-time, because I am retired. I keep the worst of it (the largest dust bunnies!) at bay, but I always think there are either more important things to do or more fun things to do. As long as we have clean clothes to wear (we do) and clean dishes to eat from (we do) and a place to sit now and then (we do) then we are doing okay. I come from a long line of women who thought reading, or crossword puzzles, or taking a walk, or sewing, or... well, just about ANYthing was better than housework. As far as I'm concerned, messy is okay as long as it's comfortable and the Board of Health isn't condemning the house. :-)

p.s. When people come over, I invite them to kick their shoes off, put their feet on the coffee table if they want to, and have a gabfest. I don't think people who are worried about the state of cleanliness in my house are too apt to c'mon in and set a spell, LOL!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 4/17/2010 11:05PM

    I could also be a better housekeeper. When it feels overwhelming, I try to do a little and that makes me feel a whole lot better.

The other thing that helps me is to have friends over for a visit every couple of weeks. It helps me share who I am, as I am, while also encouraging me to pick up a bit more. Not perfect, but perfectly human.

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REJ7777 4/17/2010 6:46PM

    I know that feeling of dread when someone's coming over! It's a feeling only a real "messie" can understand. Fortunately, my sister is a "cleanie" and comes to help me when I'm desperate, like when my son and his fiance came to spend 3 weeks in my 3-room apartment, last summer! Is there someone who can help you? Sometimes knowing someone is coming over is a motivator for housecleaning. Just do your best and then forget about it. We're really nice people, just not cleanies! emoticon

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NELLIEC 4/17/2010 3:37PM

    Well, I am not exactly Susie Homemaker either! My ex (when we were married) would complain about the house (the same man who when he was laid off for a while, commented that I worked harder than he did). Nowadays, I am very fortunate to have Medicaid which pays for a choreworker to come and help me with the house. Even then it is cluttered since my daughter's famly is presently living here, and the choreworker is only allowed to help me -- not them.

A number of years ago, I gave up on carpets. And I am glad that I did. Now critter accidents are easily mopped up and my allergies are not triggered by all the dust in carpets!

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WALKINGANNIE 4/17/2010 3:32PM

    Oh dear, I so recognise this one Barb. I'm not a good housekeeper either and I'm especially untidy with books and papers.

Until I read this blog and the comments I hadn't seen the analogy between an 'untidy' body cluttered by overeating and not tidied by exercise and an untidy home. It might be an interesting motivator in the longer term.

Given your tight timescale, you can't do it all so just do what will make the biggest difference and then wear a big smile - confident that your life is much too interesting to have found time for the housekeeping!

Good luck!


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LOVE_2_LAUGH 4/17/2010 1:52PM

    Barb, it's YOUR home. And if you're comfortable in it, you need not be concerned about what others think. If they don't like it, they don't have to look at it. I bet there are a lot of other people you work with who have similar situations. Would you think less of them because they don't have a perfectly kept house, neatly manicured lawn, well-behaved children/pets? I don't think so. Live your life and be happy. As long as you're not hurting anyone else, it doesn't really matter.

That being said, I think a lot like you do. I discovered several years ago that if you have huge dust bunnies (or don't clean the toilet for two weeks) that no one dies. LOL!

Just do what you do best - being you - and don't get hung-up on what others may be thinking.

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LJCANNON 4/17/2010 10:15AM

    I know exactly what you are talking about!! I have a very 'cluttered' house too--plus an elderly cat that doesn't always find the litter box.
I am kind of hoping that as I take better care of my body, I will begin taking better care of the house, too.
emoticon emoticon

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GINABUG 4/17/2010 9:47AM

    You are perfect, just as you are. I would say that if you feel discomfort, find the source. Is it the state of the house, or your fear of others judging the state of the house? Your actions will then become more clear for you -- whether they be cleaning or working on your own self-judgment. For, I have found when I fear what others think, it is often I who is doing the judging!

Sorry about the leak, but look at the wonderful lessons it is providing! Oy! Why oh why does the Universe work this way?

Blessings, dear one!

GinaBug emoticon

Comment edited on: 4/17/2010 9:48:14 AM

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RITAROSE 4/17/2010 9:12AM

  I am a helper by nature. I would like nothing more than to come along side you to clean today. I'm not the best housekeeper either, but my dh is. We often work together to clear out the unnecessary junk to make things easier to keep up. I'm praying for you this weekend. A verse that always helps me with the hard things is Phil 4:13, I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me! Hugs, Ritarose

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MSLZZY 4/17/2010 8:50AM

    Self-acceptance is key to happiness. Do what you can and live with the results. It would be impossible to meet everyone else's standards, no matter what. Shut the doors and let go of the stress. emoticon

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LINDAJOYWK 4/17/2010 8:33AM

    I understand where you are coming from-sometimes we just get overwhelmed. I
having been on a mission to get rid of stuff I don't use (and once & for all clean out
married son's room)! There is a really wonderful book called(I think this is title,or
something similar)"Does my clutter make my but look fat?" Great book-I So recommend it.-Linda

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Recovery days

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

OK, as you might have surmised from my status, I've been sidelined by allergies for a few days. "Recovery from illness" differs from "recovery from binge"... or does it?

When recovering from illness, you want to be sensitive to the needs of your body *today*, as opposed to its every day needs. You don't want to restrict, but you do want to eat things that your body in its current state can tolerate well. It may be a slightly different balance from the norm. Fair enough.

What about activity? Well, you want to pace yourself, not overdo.

Attitude? You want to be gentle with yourself, mentally and emotionally. Patient and kind.

When recovering from a binge, you pretty much want to do the same thing, right? What is a binge but a lapse, granted perhaps a mental / emotional one, but with physical effects? Those physical effects have to be dealt with gently, as do the mental / emotional ones.

So, not so different after all. What's the difference? We tend to add blame and shame to binges that we don't put on the flu, the allergies, or a trip to the surgery. With illness, we tend to rejoice over our increasing abilities. With illness, we tend to be grateful for life itself.

If we can bring that attitude to recovery from a "bad day", "bad week" or even "bad month" with food or exercise, won't we be so much better off?

To our health!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOVE_2_LAUGH 4/14/2010 12:07PM

    Absolutely! Good point. I know that I assign more blame/guilt to a binge simpley because I feel it's something I have control over, vs. getting the flu or a cold. I'm such a control freak. You've given me something to think about and ponder today. Thanks so much!

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LJCANNON 4/14/2010 7:27AM

    I sure hadn't thought of it this way, but what you say makes a lot of Common Sense.
emoticonThat is why it is so important to surround ourselves with SparkFriends on this Journey. I am glad you are on this Journey with me.

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PENNYAN45 4/14/2010 3:15AM

    Having just come through the recovery from a binge - I couldn't agree with you more!
Great way to look at it!

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WALKINGANNIE 4/14/2010 2:47AM

    What a great way of looking at such a common problem. This is one of the things that I love about SP - the sharing of experiences that I can understand but with thoughts and perspectives that would never have occurred to me.

Lovely to have you back and hope you're well on the mend.


EDIT - I had real trouble getting this message to send earlier today. Don't know where this emoticon came from!! Oops!


Comment edited on: 4/14/2010 5:52:24 PM

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MSLZZY 4/13/2010 10:27PM

    Quite a different way of looking at it but so true! You are so wise. Thank you for sharing! emoticon

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DEBRA_T 4/13/2010 8:52PM

    Awesome way to describe it Barb! I am in the process of writing something for tomorrow that kind of mirrors this idea. I cannot tell you how it lifts my heart to think that after all this time of trying to drill down even harder on myself (when I need that least), I have finally come to a place of kindness, acceptance, empathy and love.

emoticon emoticon

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NELLIEC 4/13/2010 8:48PM

    Putting the past behind and going forward is the best.

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When the news drives you to _____

Friday, April 09, 2010

Did you think I was going to say "binge"? Gotcha!

Actually, this is a serious blog entry. News articles some of my FB friends have pointed me at today have the photograph of the man who killed five of my son's comrades on November 5th last year. I have not been able to look at photos of that man's face without a huge feeling of disgust and ache and hurt. Why is it that the perpetrator of so much violence gets his picture plastered all over like he's some kind of hero? Meantime, those killed and wounded on that day remain obscure and anonymous to most of the world. Those of us who knew them keep them close, but are THEIR photos in the news today? No!

I believe that this is how prejudice gets started. The man's face has certain characteristics associated with his ethnic heritage. He perpetrated a heinous crime (there's no doubt he did it folks, he was personally known to the victims!) Plastering this face across the media along with tales of what he did... caused me, ME, raised liberally, taught to have tolerance toward all, to subtly begin to feel uncomfortable around one of my own doctors, who shares that racial / ethnic background... whose face has some similarities. To feel relieved when that doctor no longer needed to see me. I am not proud of this, in fact, I am shamed by it. But I recognize it as a fact, a gut-level reaction. Education is a tool to try to battle this, but eons of genetic selection have trained us to classify and learn to stay safe.

Sometimes I think too much news is bad for us. I know in my heart that there are many people of peace who share the same heritage. But I've been imprinted... do you look like this? I'm going to be very watchful around you.

How does this relate to healthy habits? Well, *not EATING uncomfortable feelings* leads me to write about them. And health goes beyond nutrition and exercise. Feeling safe is a huge part of being healthy. Having the ability to reach out to others is a big part of being healthy.

I'm facing a hard truth about my feelings. This, too, can be accepted, and given up to God, praying for the willingness to let it be healed.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WALKINGANNIE 4/10/2010 5:20PM

    I read your blog earlier Barb and it's made me think a lot. It raises hugely difficult issues and must have been a hard blog to write.

Your honesty reflects many other people's feelings. These truths are uncomfortable but exploring them as you are doing might help the world to become a better and more tolerant place. We can't help how we feel but we can help what we do about those feelings.

I hope that you can manage to find some personal peace of mind as you work through this complicated situation. My thoughts are with everyone affected by war.

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DEBRA_T 4/10/2010 7:29AM

    We struggle with our biological and evolutionary instincts don't we? Another aspect to this that I sometimes think about is the way in which we are made to feel guilty for these impulses, thoughts and feelings over which we genuinely have no control. Humans naturally gravitate toward those who look like them and away from those that don't. Just one reason why multi-cultural societies are so hard to establish and maintain; human instinct eventually "Balkanizes" them (check your average college campus). On the other hand, whatever instinctual feelings we have, we also have the power of rational thinking to overcome the feelings that have no basis in reality which you are doing in a very hard case. I join you in the lament about the free publicity that is afforded to those who commit the most fantastic crimes.

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MSLZZY 4/9/2010 11:02PM

    It is hard to admit one's faults and even harder to justify one's feelings. You were honest and that is more admirable than squelching it and pretending it doesn't exist.
You are not alone in this. But the news media has a tendency to fuel those feelings and opinions in a negative way. For that reason, I try not to overload myself with the news and the constant analysis of events. This may be wrong, too, but it helps me cope.

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PENNYAN45 4/9/2010 10:10PM

    Those are honest feelings that you have written about. We don't always have to like our feelings, but it is better to acknowledge them, rather than deny they exist. (That's where the overeating comes in, I think.)

Imprint is the right word, too. You and your son suffered a traumatic event - and at times like that, there are imprints made involuntarily on one's psyche. My son was in NYC not far from the twin towers when they fell, and I had an overwhelmingly emotional reaction to that event. My reaction of rage was very strong and it lasted a long time - for years.

So this is when we are grateful for our rational minds. As you mentioned, we know logically that not all people of a certain ethnicity are "guilty." And we understand that our feelings have formed from a trauma. So we allow ourselves our opinions and feelings, but we recognize them for what they are, and we don't always act on them.

If we are lucky, sometimes, after a while, we can soften.

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 4/9/2010 10:06PM

    Personally? I think the criminals are given way too much media attention. And I think in some ways it almost encourages other "crazies" out there to copycat or do worse. How's that for cynicism?

And I also agree with you that plastering their mugs in the papers/on TV, leads some people to form prejudice against a specific race (or religion, or political views, etc.) So what's the answer? Perhaps reporting the news with no photos? Reporting the news only on the day it happens and perhaps the following day? How about more human interest stories about victims, their families or other more positive stories. We all know they're out there, but good news doesn't sell papers or help ratings, do they?

Oh, geez, I think you got me started. This just makes me crabby.

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I've settled on "caffeine"

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Yep, that seems to be the issue. I tested the theory by going to half-caf this morning before work and I thought I was only half awake. I bought a cup of coffee at work and zip! Fine again.

So... no more decaf in the morning. Full test!

In other news... I think I've talked myself into a five mile hike on Saturday on behalf of my nephew's boy scout troop... raise money for camp.

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WALKINGANNIE 4/9/2010 4:03PM

    Yep. Caffeine is my main remaining vice - and I love it.

A double expresso and a square of dark chocolate is my treat of choice.


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TODAYSAGIFT 4/9/2010 12:51PM

    Yeah, I think I'll stick with some study that came out recently that said massive amounts of caffeine decrease your risk in getting diabetes. That one sounds good!


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MSLZZY 4/8/2010 10:08PM

    Funny how one little thing can make such a difference! Have fun Saturday! I'll be hoping for a beautiful spring day! emoticon

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LOVE_2_LAUGH 4/8/2010 9:40PM

    I say, whatever gets you going in the morning. How nice that you'll be walking to help your nephew's boy scout troop. Just think of all the calories you'll burn while raising money -- a double whammy!

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NELLIEC 4/8/2010 9:25PM

    While I was never into much caffeine like some people, a number of years ago, I discovered that it gives me the shakes. Somehow I don't want to appear palsied!

So now the only caffeine I get is from small amounts of chocolate!

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LJCANNON 4/8/2010 9:06PM

    Congrats on the walk. emoticonI am doing my first 5K on April 17 and my 2nd one April 25th, both for charity.

emoticonI definitely am with you on the Caffeine monster. But I have cut down to one (LARGE) cup of coffee with Breakfast and one cup of Green Tea at bedtime. If I don't have caffeine at bedtime, I wake up with a horrendous caffeine headache. Good way to ruin a Day!!

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SLENDERELLA61 4/8/2010 8:42PM

    Oh, yeah, I get the caffeine withdrawal headache around 10am if I don't have my caffeine. Several times I gradually cut back. But seems like every time I give it up, there comes a sleepy demanding day I think I just can't do without it. Soon I'm back to needing it daily. My teeth are looking quite bleached and white, but I've slipped and had a couple cups of that dark, staining liquid. But really there are far worse vices, you know.

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