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Fight, flight, and dealing with life... slow learner here.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Funny how the big things in life turn one to a philosophical side. The part of me that sits to the side and observes "how'm I doing?" is on active duty, recording away for assimilation into the "me report". In this blog, my little cave where it IS all about me... I nurture me, despite the storms around.

It isn't all about numbers on the scale. We established that at the very beginning. That might be a metaphor, but seriously, my weight issues are not about physical weight, they are about behavior and reactions to stimuli. Those stimuli may be emotions, or events, or even the presence of particular foods.

What I observed last night was the need for quiet and an amazing thing that happened when I just went on auto-pilot and walked on that treadmill for an hour, uninterrupted. In the shower, washing off the sweat, it dawned on me that the sheer physical action of walking is part of the instinctive reaction to flee from danger. That's why it works to calm. Taking a physical action releases the tension that's built up.

Physical activity puts "distance" between me and whatever is bugging me. It lets me separate myself, and re-establish my boundaries from an all-too-easy identification with others who are, after all, far more directly impacted. My imagination goes straight to "how would I be feeling if it were my ... son, husband, sibling..." But it is not my place to process the emotions that come to another human being. That falls into "the things I cannot change", and belongs firmly in the God box.

Walking (or other physical activity) helps me remember that I don't have to BE that other person to be of service. Maintain strong boundaries, but don't build brick walls. Find the balance. Belonging, connecting, is not absorption. Lessons for a lifetime.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THIAGRAM 2/11/2011 1:02PM

  I have felt this feeling of physical action relieving stress and tension...... Thanks for your great insights and wisdom!

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KASEYCOFF 2/10/2011 5:00AM

    There is a branch of meditation that uses 'walking meditation.' And as you have discovered, sometimes it's the very motion that helps induce the tranquility and serenity that does us as much good as (if not more than) the physical exertion itself.
IMHO
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SAMI199 2/9/2011 8:13PM

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REJ7777 2/9/2011 5:44PM

    I find that exercise helps clear my mind too. But if I turn to food in order to numb my emotions (often unconsciously), rather than facing the pain, I don't *work things out* in my own mind. Working off some nervous energy with exercise helps me to be able to think more clearly.

Comment edited on: 2/9/2011 5:45:07 PM

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DEBRITA01 2/9/2011 11:30AM

    You really have an awareness of your self and your needs. Finding the balance is difficult but you seem to have a good handle on it.

It's interesting how exercise starts out as something we *have* to do each day and then turns into something we *need* (and want) to do each day...right now I am somewhere in-between.

Comment edited on: 2/9/2011 11:32:13 AM

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FITFABJENN 2/9/2011 11:26AM

    Terrific post. Thanks for sharing.

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ANDI571 2/9/2011 11:19AM

    You are so right. I have been feeling the need to get out and walk. I miss those summer evenings of just getting out there. I am so ready for this weather to break. I think it will help my mood tremendously.

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BUGGYS 2/9/2011 10:37AM

    Exercise is calming to me and important. I am pulled in so many directions during the day that often times, I neglect ME and my exercise time. I need to find that balance, I need to find ME! Thanks for another great blog!

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LJCANNON 2/9/2011 10:15AM

    "Strong boundaries, but not Brick Walls"!! That is some very wise advice, and we all need to remember that, whatever situation we are facing.
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SUNNY332 2/9/2011 9:55AM

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HOT4FITNESS 2/9/2011 8:47AM

    We definitly need to focus on balance in our lives. I also beliee that exercise is healing og the mind, body and, soul and just takes us away. Great blog, enjoy your day and your training.

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JHADZHIA 2/9/2011 8:32AM

    Having empathy and compassion for others is an admirable trait, but you can't let it rule your life certainly..This is why so many women have trouble with the 'me time' concept..
Keep up the great work!


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DAISY443 2/9/2011 8:16AM

    I am often lacking that balance. Thanks for the reminder. I hope you continue to find ease! Hugs!

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CAPECODBABE 2/9/2011 8:05AM

    Your blog really makes me think. I am struggling to find a balance in my life right now! Thanks for posting

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A quiet night after two evenings of phone calls

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

I'm amazed at how exhausting conversation can be. Yesterday was an "off" day from the half marathon training, but I spent the evening in back to back phone calls with family, pacing the kitchen, dining room, living room circle. Processing, processing.

Tonight, having nobody on the phone, being by myself, hopping up on the treadmill again and getting in a good workout... well, it's been a much needed breather for me. I now have a time and date and place for the service (Thursday). I now know my ex is not making the 1200 mile trek to attend, so I don't have to worry about him on the road in the winter or his fear of flying or having him in my home (I felt honor-bound to offer to put him up, since the more immediate family doesn't have the space).

Part of me feels a trifle guilty for feeling relieved at that. But if I'm honest with myself I do feel relieved, as the upcoming weekend is one that involves staying up overnight working, and although someone would probably back me up if I could not do my bit, it's long since my turn! And as some of you have figured out by now, being useful at work is a huge part of my identity.

Tomorrow, a new day.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THIAGRAM 2/11/2011 1:15PM

  No need to feel a bit guilty about being relieved that you won't have to have your ex staying with you. That would be very stressful on top of stress......Prayers for you...


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BUGGYS 2/9/2011 7:19AM

    Removing the stress from your life is the healthiest thing you can do for yourself...being relieved that your ex will not be spending time with you is relieving that stress, for sure...take care!!! emoticon

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REJ7777 2/9/2011 6:43AM

    It's very understandable that you would be emotionally drained right now.

As an ex-wife too, I can understand both your concern and relief. My ex has been having very serious health problems, and I'm concerned about him. It takes a lot of emotional energy to relate to ex-husbands, and in your case, it would also take physical energy to have him in your home. "Ex" relationships carry a lot of baggage. I'm glad he'll be safely home, and that you won't have that additional challenge to cope with in the coming (already difficult) days.

This is a very busy time at work for me too. I have to be reasonable. (Cough. Cough.)

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KASEYCOFF 2/9/2011 3:37AM

    With the emotional upheaval of the last few days, having your life get back to normal as quickly as possible is a blessing. Thinks me. So it's perfectly understandable, hon. :-)

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DAISY443 2/9/2011 2:52AM

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SWEETMAGNOLIA2 2/9/2011 12:00AM

    emoticon emoticon Yes, tomorrow!

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ANDI571 2/8/2011 11:05PM

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MSLZZY 2/8/2011 11:02PM

    Feeling relief at your ex's absence is human. Take care and try to pace yourself
so this will not cause issues later. HUGS!

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SUNNYWBL 2/8/2011 10:44PM

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Using what you've learned in real life situations

Monday, February 07, 2011

You're traveling along on your Spark journey, improving your health, learning to deal with your emotions without turning to the food, learning to manage your stress, getting physically stronger, dropping pounds or maintaining a healthy weight. Then something big hits. It is like a test: is all this Spark-philosophy practical for ME in my life, through all its storms? Is it worth it?

Yesterday was the beginning of such a test. We all have lots of such tests in our lives... some are pop quizzes (like dinner out), some are all-day, all-week, all-month, multi-part exams (like an illness, or a family crisis).

Since I'm not part of the inner circle for my nephew, his wife or my sister in law... yesterday was a day of waiting and starting to accept this thing that has happened. I passed the news along to "my side of the family", including my son, his cousin. To give you an idea of the relationship between my son and my nephew, I offer this photograph, from 1988, at the Jersey shore.



My nephew is on the left, the tall 11 year old, holding the hand of the trusting 4 year old. My son and I chatted a bit about what had happened, and of course, he was pretty shocked, too.

Not able to get in touch with my ex (left him voice mail), I put the Super Bowl on the TV, and hopped back on the treadmill, finally ready to finish the interrupted workout. About halftime, I finally heard back from my ex, and we were able to share our memories, and the usual thoughts that we all have when someone young and promising dies: "Why him? Why not someone older, like us, who have already raised our children?"

Honestly, if I were to drop dead today, I would say "I've done my bit". This young man still had lots of future plans. For himself, for his wife, for their daughters. That's what makes these things hard. Life teaches us that there are many things beyond our own control. We can't go back and change them. We can't undo the bad things that have happened.

What we can do is take inspiration, have faith, and recognize that a life does not have to be long to be worthwhile. My nephew leaves a legacy of two promising daughters. He leaves behind each of us who were touched by his gentle soul and his life. He leaves behind a warning about sleep apnea and how dangerous it is... and how being "big" adds to the danger.

We do not have control over everything that happens in life, but we do have the responsibility for our own behavior. If there is something we can do to increase our potential to be a help, rather than another burden, to others, now's the time to start (or continue). That includes taking care of our own health, nurturing ourselves so that we can help others.

Yes, the Spark philosophy *does* work for real life, because it is real-life based. The first thing you're instructed to do is examine your values, and determine just what your motivation comes from. If we did that part, we, and Spark, pass the tests.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THIAGRAM 2/11/2011 1:22PM

  So sad to have lost this young man.......... Thank you for sharing something about him...........

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DONNALYNN22 2/8/2011 10:14AM

    OMgosh, so very sad. A lesson learned from a beautifully written and heart-felt blog about real life. It challenges me to do what is right for me so that those around me won't (maybe) have to deal with this prematurely. What a smack upside my awarenss head. Thanx... VERY MUCH. emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SAMI199 2/8/2011 7:54AM

    I can only echo what everyone has said...I am still praying for you & your family! Consider yourself HUGGED!!!!!

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KASEYCOFF 2/8/2011 4:28AM

    Barb, truly touching blog. The pictures are so eloquent.
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PENNYAN45 2/7/2011 7:37PM

    Barb, you are such a leader and role model for all of us here.

You are continuing to do the right thing for yourself - for your health and your well being. You are not using this family tragedy as a reason to eat the wrong foods or to stop your own exercise program.

I am looking at you from about a year back in the calendar. In another year of Sparking, I hope to have brought myself to where you are now.

Thanks for lighting the way.


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CONCHA77 2/7/2011 6:45PM

    Excellent blog today, Barb. Thanks. Again, sorry about your nephew.
God Bless, Connie

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FITFABJENN 2/7/2011 5:52PM

    Thank you for posting this. You are an inspiration. Take care of yourself and your family.

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SUNNYWBL 2/7/2011 5:36PM

    Well said, indeed!

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BUGGYS 2/7/2011 4:31PM

    So well said...we all have to own our health and do something about it if it is on the unhealthy side...I had an uncle who passed from sleep apnea about 12 years ago...needless to say, he did not lead a healthy lifestyle and after all of our encouraging words, nothing sank in and of course, it was too late for him too.

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REJ7777 2/7/2011 2:28PM

    Some events are impossible to understand, and the death of a young father and husband is one of them. We need to remember that every day is precious, and that it's a gift. There are no guarantees about tomorrow. Let's control the elements of our health that we DO have control over. We can do our part, and leave the rest to God... even when there are so many things we don't understand.

Love your photo! emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/7/2011 2:29:33 PM

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DEBRITA01 2/7/2011 1:00PM

    emoticonI appreciate you sharing during this time of sorrow for your family. Something positive can come out of the saddest situations...you've just proven that.

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JHADZHIA 2/7/2011 11:10AM

    Unfortunately, a lot of people pay for their lifestyle choices. Its up to us to make what we want of our lives. Can't blame it on anyone else for our bad habits..
Living a healthy lifestyle will make you feel better if nothing else..Its worth it and if you happen to live longer as a result, that is a bonus..

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ANDI571 2/7/2011 11:03AM

    Amen! emoticon

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SUNNY332 2/7/2011 10:53AM

    Zach is a shining example of a life that does not have to be long to be an example.

What a great post.

Thanks so much and have a Marvelous Monday.

Hugs, Sunny

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HOT4FITNESS 2/7/2011 8:59AM

    I am sorry about your loss, my prayers go out to his wife and daughters. I know we have no control over the time we are here on earth, but we definitly can make the time we are here the best quality we can. Thanks for sharing the blog and the inspiration to make a legacy.

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46SHADOW 2/7/2011 8:22AM

    Sorry for your loss. thanks for the wise words.

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DAISY443 2/7/2011 8:04AM

    I agree with Marsha! Hugs!

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MSLZZY 2/7/2011 7:44AM

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Workout interrupted

Sunday, February 06, 2011

I was on the treadmill, over halfway to my planned six miles when the phone rang. It was one of those phone calls you don't want to get, and my phone doesn't ring without purpose on a Sunday morning. Those aren't the telemarketers or the fund raisers.

In this case is was my ex's sister, and her voice sounded shaky. We don't talk THAT often. Last time we did was in the Summer when her son's mother in law passed away and she herself had a heart attack. We care about one another, we just live independent lives, and don't want to overburden one another... as we have separate support groups. I'm sure you have folks like this in your lives, too.

Still, there was a time when we saw one another more frequently. When the kids were younger. When my ex was my husband. When we ferried the kids to Sunday School together. Before we moved away.

After I moved back, we again saw one another mainly in the context of my ex's relationship. I did go to a few birthday parties of her grand daughters. Stopped by on Christmas or the day after. Went to cultural events together. But this past year, with her health issues, we didn't do so much... as her needs were more on conserving energy, and her own immediate family was her focus.

She asked if my ex had called me. He had not. Then she just out and told me: her son, one of those kids we used to ferry to Sunday School, has died. Last night, in his sleep, he suffered a massive coronary (possibly triggered by his sleep apnea?). He had a good day yesterday, she said... laughing and watching a movie with his sister before heading home to bed. I know he would have wanted those left behind to take care of one another.

The news has certainly knocked me back. Some things are just too huge. This doesn't mean to stop taking care of one's health... functional fitness still applies to being able to deal the storms of life. But I have to process it.

So my message today is: hug your loved ones. You never know. Life can be short (he was 35). But even a short life can have meaning and purpose... he leaves behind two little girls and a wife, and he touched many of us with his gentle soul.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

THIAGRAM 2/11/2011 1:35PM

  My heart weeps for your nephew and his family.... My brother was killed in a tractor accident just 4 days after his 26th birthday. He left his wife and 6 month old son. She had a daughter 9 months later.... So I feel the pain and sorrow. Thank you for the reminder to hug and love our loved ones!

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2BMYOWN 2/9/2011 9:10AM

    I am so very sorry. My 32 year old son in law passed away in '09 of an undiagnosed genetic heart defect, also leaving behind my daughter, two twin girls (3 at the time) and an older son. He had just gotten a clean bill of health from his work physical, came home on a Friday, went with his son to play volleyball with his buddies and was gone in a hair's breadth. It's so very true that you just never, never know. Life is never promised to anyone, but it's a hard, hard thing to recover from when you lose someone so youthful and so unexpectedly. Sincere condolences to you and your family in your loss, and many, many prayers.

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SUCHAHOOT 2/8/2011 11:16PM

    I am very sorry to hear of your family's loss. I will pray for you and yours.

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PENNYAN45 2/7/2011 7:31PM

    I am so sorry for you and others in your nephew's family.

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FRAN0426 2/7/2011 1:26AM

    So sorry for the loss in your extended family, it is never easy to understand the loss of someone so young. My thoughts and prayers for his family.

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SUNNYWBL 2/6/2011 11:47PM

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MOMOF2TONI 2/6/2011 10:25PM

    So sorry! Will keep you and the entire family in my prayers. Hugs!!

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PATRISNA 2/6/2011 9:40PM

    Barb,

My deepest sympathy for you and your family. Such a sad day.




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SUNNY1432 2/6/2011 9:39PM

    My thoughts and prayers are with you and family. emoticon

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SUNNY332 2/6/2011 6:27PM

    Wow - way too young. I will be praying for you all. There are not words to express sympathy of a life cut this short. Bless his girls, they will grow up without their Dad. So, so, sad for them and of course his wife.

Hugs, Sunny

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BUGGYS 2/6/2011 4:48PM

    I amso sorry for your loss and there just aren't words that can express it...my daughter told me a couple of days ago that a coworker's brother-in-law died shoveling snow in his apartment complex...he was only 35 also! Yes, hug your loved ones every day and also listen to your body for signs that things aren't right...this young man had been feeling sick for a while and had a scheduled dr.'s appointment the afternoon of his death! It's all so sad!!!

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ANDI571 2/6/2011 4:31PM

    I am so sorry. There are never words other than let you know someone cares. emoticon

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SAMI199 2/6/2011 2:54PM

    I am so sorry...

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HOT4FITNESS 2/6/2011 2:48PM

    So sorry to hear. My prayers go out to his family.

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JHADZHIA 2/6/2011 2:02PM

    So sorry for your loss :( Its heartbreaking to hear someone so young being taken..
Thoughts are with the survivors..
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SLENDERELLA61 2/6/2011 12:43PM

    So sorry for your shock. Very difficult to process. You are so right. Life is short. My dad said that even as he lay dying at age 84, life is short. Value our time. Hug our loved ones. Take care of yourself.

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REJ7777 2/6/2011 12:33PM

    I'm so sorry to hear that terrible news! Of course you'll need time to process it. Humans have been blessed with a phenomenon called "denial", which is the first stage of grief, when we can't yet face reality.

You're right about hugging those we love, because we just never know! emoticon

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SWEETMAGNOLIA2 2/6/2011 12:24PM

    I am so sorry for your loss. It always shocks the emotions to learn that someone who was a part of our life, especially someone so young, has died. He sounds like a sweet man. I agree, Life IS short and here's a HUG for you.

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MSLZZY 2/6/2011 12:15PM

    My sympathy to you and the family. Words cannot express deeply enough how important it is to cherishe those you love. HUGS!

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DEBRITA01 2/6/2011 11:59AM

    I am so sorry for the loss of your loved one. May God's loving arms surround his family and give them His peace. God bless...

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TURTLETALK 2/6/2011 11:54AM

    So sorry to hear of your loss. Those family relationships can get so muddled in a divorce but love for those other family members never goes away. Take care.

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NURSIE8 2/6/2011 11:50AM

    I am so sorry to hear about your family's loss. You are in my thoughts and prayers. I hope that your positive memories of this young man bring you peace.

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DAISY443 2/6/2011 11:39AM

    I am so sorry to hear your sad news. It is hard when anyone we care about dies, but even sadder when they are so young. Prayers for his family and hugs for you.

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Practice makes perfect?

Saturday, February 05, 2011

That old saying may not be completely true, in that I don't think "perfection" is a realistic goal in terms of nutrition and exercise. This is the year of "majority rules" for me. However, after having blogged about the surreal feeling of "normal" yesterday, it struck me that I really *do* think of healthy behaviors as being NORMAL for me, and the lapses as being just that... lapses, exceptions, unusual behavior.

How did that happen? Because trust me, there were YEARS, nay, decades of my life when healthy behavior around food and exercise topics was far from normal, usual, or expected of myself!

And I have to conclude that indeed it is practice, one day at a time practicing healthy behavior that turns it into habitual healthy behavior. Whether we're talking about brushing your teeth, bathing, praying or meditating, eating right, exercising, living on a budget, keeping an orderly environment, fitting reading into your day... the more you do a given thing, the more normal it becomes to you. The more you take it on as a part of your identity.

It takes practice to put health first. We may start out with affirmations, wanting it to be true, but in the end, we are stating truth when we say, "I am a healthy person. I respect and take care of my body's true physical needs."

Here's to practice making normal!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

RR1_RR1 2/8/2011 10:38AM

    True true, practice makes better- that should be the saying! emoticon

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MSLZZY 2/6/2011 12:16PM

    If only we understood what normal really is. Time to think that normal takes practice, too! HUGS!

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PENNYAN45 2/6/2011 10:31AM

    This is good news to me.
Even though we've heard the phrase many times before, that practice makes perfect, it is good to hear that it is true when it comes to food and exercise too.
There have been times when I've wondered if so many years of old behaviors might prevent the new better behaviors from ever feeling like 'normal.'
Sometimes it seems like maintaining the new behaviors would always feel like a struggle or a 'diet.'
I am happy to learn that just by doing it every day we can overwrite our old habits permanently - and the new better ways become as easy to stick to as the old ways were.
This is very good news!

Thanks!


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Comment edited on: 2/6/2011 10:32:16 AM

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CONCHA77 2/6/2011 10:31AM

    Absolutely Agree. Here is to healthy habits! emoticon

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SUNNY1432 2/5/2011 10:38PM

    You are definitely right about the practice makes perfect and it is nice when healthy isn't practice anymore but just "normal". emoticon emoticon

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NEEDTOBE145 2/5/2011 9:21PM

    Thanks for writing that! It is very encouraging! I am still working on it. And, look at all the snow in your yard! WOW

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SUNNYWBL 2/5/2011 5:48PM

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I like to think of myself as a work in progress! emoticon

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KALIGIRL 2/5/2011 4:51PM

    It definitely takes practice - undoing years of unhealthy living takes time and aren't you glad we have it!

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ANDI571 2/5/2011 1:35PM

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FITFABJENN 2/5/2011 11:41AM

    That's awesome! Congratulations on your healthy habits!

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KSHAGGY 2/5/2011 10:58AM

    I definetely can see this is happening! Thanks for putting it in words!

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BUGGYS 2/5/2011 9:30AM

    Great thinking!!! emoticon

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REJ7777 2/5/2011 9:19AM

    emoticon Congratulations on your healthy habits! It must be so encouraging to *discover* that healthy choices have become a habit. I'm finding that my habits are changing too. When we have the momentum of habit behind our choices, it helps a LOT! We can DO this... eh, we ARE doing this! emoticon emoticon

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SUNNY332 2/5/2011 8:43AM

    Here's to Practice making normal. Thanks so much, Barb, for you encouragement and support over time but especially the past few days. You have no idea how much it meant to me.

I am off my "pity pot" and moving forward. I love it that there is still room at the top for me to move up. Here's to progress not perfection. onward and upward to a healthier life.

Hugs, Sunny

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KASEYCOFF 2/5/2011 7:20AM

    Your blog also kind of addresses something I've been thinking lately: 'Good enough is good enough.'
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CO-CREATOR 2/5/2011 7:08AM

    I enjoyed your post. Have a great day!

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DEBRITA01 2/5/2011 7:00AM

    I like that..."practice makes normal" emoticon

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