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My speech at the Wings of Mercy MN fundraiser

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

This is the speech I gave at the Wings of Mercy MN fundraiser on 9/8/12. This non-profit flies me from St Paul to Milwaukee for doctors appointments at no cost to me. I was honored to speak and share how much they help me. I'm sharing this video for my SparkFriends who wanted to see, and with the hope that someone else might be helped (www.wingsofmercymn.org), or that those who have the ability to give will support WoM's wonderful work.

It's been 2 months since I gave this speech, and watching it again I realize what I was saying wasn't always what I thought I was saying, partially because of nerves and no notes, but also because of my cognative decline. But I think the message came through. I know the response I got that night was incredible!

Does anyone know a place online where I can upload this video for free to share with only some people? I want to share this on my CaringBridge, but they don't offer video uploads and I don't want to share my SparkPeople with my CaringBridge followers. I'm not sure about using YouTube, so I'm wondering what other sites could I use?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MISSCUS 11/27/2012 2:00AM

    You give a good speech. Easy to follow. You looked very pretty too. I feel good for you that W of M is available to you. There are some truly unselfish people here on earth. Unfortunately I am unaware of sites to upload to, other than the youtube and a couple others like youtube. Keep trying.

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MOM2ACAT 11/7/2012 4:33PM

    You did great! I am so proud of you!

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SHERRYGAYL 11/7/2012 2:39PM

    Well done emoticon emoticon

I don't know anything about uploading videos, though. Sorry I can't help with that. I can ask my son if he knows. He's a teenager, he probably knows more about it than an old lady like me emoticon

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JAMER123 11/6/2012 10:30PM

    emoticon for sharing an emoticon message. W of M are a wonderful organization and take as many people as possible. I am glad you are one of the ones that gets help from them!!
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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I just need to complain for a moment...

Saturday, November 03, 2012

I haven't paid my mortgage since Sept 1st (for August). I'm unable to work, I have lawyers working on appealing social security disability and long term disability, but the last income I had was short term disability that ended in April. My 401(k)s are gone and I'm almost completely out of savings. I'm in a world of hurt and scared. And that's even without taking into account my ridiculous mess of medical conditions that even has my numerous specialists confused and unsure how to proceed. Think that's not enough to deal with?

Wells Fargo called me 3 times today! They woke me up at 8, called right before I had an important phone appointment at 10, and I finally picked up at 1:30. She had the nerve to say to me about 8 times "I hope you feel better soon" after I told her several of my conditions are incurable. Moron. She wants all of my financial information after I already told her I called months ago and was told there was nothing they would do to help me and that I'm basically SOL. I also explained to her that I have many doctor appointments, I could be in and out of the hospital or ER at any time, and that I feel it's more important that I work on staying alive than dealing with them calling me numerous times a day to harass me. Then she wants me to tell her how long I'm not going to be able to make my payments and if I'll just hand over the house or try to keep it. Well, let's see, I'll get out my crystal ball and see how long it is until my incurable conditions go away, find when my legal battles with people who can't even pronounce or spell half of my diagnoses will end and if it will be in my favor or not, or how long I have until I die (hoping not soon, but I'm going to be a little dramatic when I want someone to stop harassing me). Yeah, I can't say what tomorrow will bring let alone the next weeks or months!

Finally she said she'll mark down to not call me anymore and they'll send out a letter I have to sign and send back that they should only contact me by mail. I'll still probably get a letter every day, but whatever.

I'm frustrated and I'm scared. That's not a good combination. I get crap for support from my family (moving back to my parent's house is unsafe physically, mentally, and emotionally), and most of my friends can't handle the fact that I'm sick, let alone what I actually have to go through. There are not even any open waiting lists for help with housing in my entire county, so that's not an option. I think I might have to go back to the idea of moving into some type of assisted living facility, but at 31 and with severe PTSD plus hearing like a hawk, I'll be terrified every day living that close to so many other people and I'll never sleep.

So yeah, I just needed to get that out. There really aren't any good answers for me besides winning the lottery (that I don't play) or PCH (which is a long-shot). I'm really trying to believe that something good will happen, and soon before it's too late, but sometimes it's just too much at once to stay positive. I've been fighting this positive/negative battle in my head all day and I have such a raging headache now that I give up on trying to stop the worry and fear. I'm going to do all my PCH entries then try to get some sleep. If I can get some actual sleep tonight maybe tomorrow will be a little easier for me to handle.

And if I get one more phone call from Wells Fargo I'm blocking their number.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIERRA551 11/6/2012 7:14PM

  I lost my house due to so many hospitalizations and being sick all the time. It's a terrible feeling. I of course moved. It was so hard to go thru. I am glad it's over. I am sorry you don't have family support. I don't know how I would have made it with out them. I pray you get some support and help soon. Are you still trying to get on the Ellen show?

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MISSCUS 11/5/2012 8:58PM

    I keep you in my Prayers daily. I hope for your sake that the SS disability comes through in time. Wells Fargo has NEVER been on my good side. They are as you said is best, Morons, they haven't a clue. I will email Ellen again. Maybe something good can come from that. It is very hard to try to stay positive when you have so much you're up against. Feel free to vent. I can listen, very soft heartedly. Hope your family grows up and can begin to try to understand what you are going through. Although it doesn't seem likely, as they are stuck in their ways.
Keep on sparking, some of us really really like you and care what's going on in your life.
Huggs, Phyllis

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LUCIOUSKITTY 11/5/2012 1:47AM

    My dad was about to lose his house because of lack of funds and his health prevented him from working. I did lots of research for him and found some Banks online that would work with him. They took his situation in consideration and literally cut his whole Mortgage in half. He has a set income cause of his age and they made sure his Mortgage was low enough to pay+ have money left over for food and medical stuff. Maybe you can do some research and see if they have any programs in your area like that. As for money,Can you do any work from home on the computer,such as data entry? I know on Craigslist they have jobs listed to do at home and some are actually legit. If you can find one that would be good cause you are at home in a safe area and you obviously know how to type and use a computer so this might be something to look into and you seem qualified enough to do data entry.

Keep your head high and hope something works out. emoticon

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EVWINGS 11/4/2012 11:58PM

    I'm so sorry you have to go thru all this while you are dealing with your health issues, too. I had a good friend who had a stroke and the affects would not change, but SS required him to go thru an exam every year!! I lost all of my saving, too. Allof my pension - gone with the wind before I could even use it. My 401(k) = lost in the 2008 crash. When all was said and done I had 10 shares in one company left. Not even worth it to pay to trade it. Then with all the medical bills, forget about it. But it is the hand I've been dealt. The same is true with you. It wasn't your fault and it isn't fair, but it's ours. Something good WILL come from it. You are a fantastic writer. Perhaps something will come from that. You certainly have a good story for a non-fiction life in America for those who can't work and can't get help!

Rant all you want. We're your friends and we understand. Extra special hugs and prayers for you, my friend.

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IUHRYTR 11/4/2012 11:35PM

    I really do feel your pain. I waited two years after leaving my last job due to back problems before I applied for Social Security disability only to have to wait 20 months for a decision, favorable, fortunately. In the decision the doctor chastised the two reviewers who had previously denied my application because it was obvious to any rational person I couldn't resume prior duties and would be severely limited in other positions. During the wait I, too, went through retirement funds, stocks and savings and came about one month from being on the streets. During it all I kept the faith that all would work out. How, I didn't know, but believing it would beat the alternative of fearing the worse. So I urge you to keep pressure on Soc. Sec. and to stay positive that things, while depressing now, will work out for the best. Keeping you in thoughts and prayers. If you need an understanding ear, please let me know. -- Lou

Comment edited on: 11/4/2012 11:37:34 PM

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MOM2ACAT 11/3/2012 5:29PM

    emoticon You don't need to deal with that kind of stress when you are already not feeling good from health issues.

I know how stressed out I get just having to deal with an insurance screw-up. Financial problems don't help when we are already stressed out and fatigued from our illnesses.

It seems like it's easier for the millionares to get bailed out with the help of the government than it is for "regular people" like us to get help when we are honestly doing everything we can to try to help ourselves, and dealing with circumstances beyond our control.

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SHERRYGAYL 11/3/2012 2:59PM

    emoticon Financial stress is absolutely the pits. I can't do much other than let you vent, give you emoticon, and send you some pictures. I'll look for those original files we discussed earlier now.

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SHIRAROCK 11/3/2012 5:53AM

    There is nothing positive about your situation. Nothing. No, that isn't true. The only thing that can be positive is you.

I really hope you can find the best solution for yourself. I have no answers. I am just concerned.

I hope whatever you choose to do, works for you. I just think you have to have as much hope as you can muster, when it is needed.

Also, sometimes it is necessary to vent. We are your venting board.


P.S. I am praying for you, too.

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    I am so sorry you are going through all of this. I wish there was something I could say that would help. You have been so supportive of my journey and I appreciate it so much. I understand your frustration. It's a tough situation and you can't help but to worry. You are trying your best to remain hopeful and that's all you can do for right now. I will be thinking about you and keeping my fingers crossed that things do get better somehow.

emoticon emoticon

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KYLIESCHELLE 11/3/2012 1:41AM

    Oh my. You are definitely hurting now. I wish that you get resolution to these issues in the very near future. I know that disability decisions can take forever. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I hope things get better for you soon. In the meantime, take good care of yourself.


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TATTER3 11/3/2012 1:36AM

    So sorry you're going through this. Prayers for you!!

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NANCYPAT1 11/3/2012 1:01AM

    I will keep you in my prayers. I too struggle with the financial crisis and wolves at the door all the time. I wish there was more I could do but I have heard that when prayer is all you CAN do, prayer is all you NEED to do.

Be kind to you - it doesn't sound like anyone else is being kind to you right now.


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A request for donated pictures

Thursday, November 01, 2012

I just updated my caringbridge and I asked for people to help me with something. I'd also like to ask my sparkfriends to help with this:

I'm wondering if anyone out there would be willing to help me with a project. I'd like to try putting together a book of motivational/thought provoking statements as a way to make a little money to help pay bills. I've already been shown how to self-publish and it is quite easy and really cheap. I've already been writing out the statements and have 35 potentials already, and I know I can come up with more. I've spoken to a few people about this already and most people have been wholly supportive (the few who aren't, well they're rarely supportive so I've given up on expecting anything positive from them). So if I'm going to make this happen I'd like help with getting pictures to put in the book. My idea is to have a photo with each saying, but as I'm not good with taking pictures and I don't have a lot of opportunities to spend energy tracking down places to take good pictures, it would be helpful if some of you would be willing to donate pictures to me. They don't need to be elaborate, but keep in mind I will be putting this book on sale on Amazon so avoid people and identifying places. These photos can be of animals, flowers, nature, weather, or anything you can think of that has a positive feel. The higher the quality of the photo the larger I'll be able to make it in the book. I will credit the photos unless you want to be anonymous. Now I know I might only sell a few books and only make a little money, but this is worth doing. If I don't make an effort to do something great, then how can I expect positive things to happen? I need hope to keep me going.

If you're willing to help me out, send me a sparkmail. Since we can't send photos by sparkmail, we'll work out another way.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHERRYGAYL 11/2/2012 11:34AM

    That is emoticon ! Wow, I hope that works out for you! I have some you are welcome to look through.

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Goes to show the importance of research... MyPoints review

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

I want to start out by thanking the sparkfriends who told me to checkout the website I mention below. I don't blame you for not knowing what was going to happen, especially if you've had a good experience so far. Please read this information and consider your account before visiting that site again. It's up to you to decide if you're willing to continue with the site or not, but know that I will no longer be spending time on them.

The site I'm talking about is MyPoints.com. I signed up on the recommendation of a few friends as a way to earn some gift cards because I have absolutely no income due to disability and I need whatever I can get. Normally I do my due diligence and research websites like this before signing up with them, but because several friends had said they're good I was trusting. I signed up and instantly started being spammed with multiple emails daily. Well, you're supposed to be able to click on them and get points, so okay. Then you're supposed to get points for printing and using coupons, something I use often so I gave it a try. I did a few surveys. I played some games. The way it works is impossible to understand, the need to spend money to make money is ridiculously annoying, the amount of extras you must download to make it work takes up a ridiculous amount of memory on my computer, and the website is not at all neat and clean - I can't find half of what I'm looking for. Today I hit my breaking point.

First, some parts of the website work better with IE while others ONLY work with Firefox (or other web browsers - I haven't tried them all). So I have to open the account on 2 browsers to do what I want to do. This is frustrating and ridiculous. Next, the points you're supposed to get are often held in 'pending' for weeks on end. If you buy a product and can't take it back for 30 days I can understand the pending, but not when you do a survey! I would put 10 minutes into a survey, finish it, then be told I don't qualify and the points are put in 'pending' status. What are you holding the points back for? It's not like I can take back my answers. You were already told I supposedly don't qualify even though I finished the survey. Then I come to find out the coupons don't get the points due. You can print them and get nothing. You can use them and get nothing, besides the obvious money saved from using coupons that you could have gotten in a dozen other places much easier, with more coupons to choose from, and without having to use 2 browsers just to get access to what few coupons are available. Then today I tried to download and install their mypoints toolbar - BIG mistake. Doing so was supposed to give me 100 points which were not awarded, the toolbar messed up my browser, and it is impossible to log into your account with the toolbar! So anything you do with the toolbar is not awarded to your account! Then they locked out my account for 2 days because the toolbar wouldn't accept my password, even though the website accepted it and was logged in on the same browser as the toolbar. I emailed the website (which is in CA, so Hurricane Sandy is not an issue, just in case you were thinking that) and was told they'll get back to me in a few days. Their FAQ is absolute nonsense and answers nothing. I found a phone number and called, but their phone system is a joke. I tried numerous times and at 1pm CST there was not a single person answering a phone. One thing I've learned over time is that if a company doesn't answer their phones then it's probably a scam. I left voicemails and no phone calls have been made back to me in several hours. I sent more emails (at this point I was furious) and they go nowhere. I clicked on links to unsubscribe from emails and you can't do that when your account is shut down (another sign of a scam) and also tried to close my account, and that's blocked. So they're denying me using my account and denying me from closing my account. Wow, that's ridiculous. I finally got Hotmail to ask them to unsubscribe me from their lists and then I blocked their emails. If I can't have an account because their system is an epic fail I don't want their spam emails.

What does all this say about the site? Well, they lie about what points you get and what you can do with the points you do earn. They put their hands all over into your browser to take information. Then if you buy an item from a 'retail partner' they get told how much you spent... I now wonder what other information they collect from those sites. They don't answer phones or emails. Their IT department is clearly lacking because they can't keep the site running. Wow, I don't think I want anything to do with them!

Then I realized I never did research on the company to find what people are saying about it. I did a simple search (from PCHsearch which has been good to me) for "mypoints scam" and what I found is too many cases of people being burned. MyPoints changes the 'cost' of the gift cards as you earn more points, turning you into a donkey being led by a carrot. Their customer service is appalling. They shut down accounts randomly, and more frequently when the accounts have high point totals accumulated. They even tried to demand several people send them a copy of a driver's license to prove it was their account... that reeks of identity fraud and if you didn't provide the information ahead of time, how could you know that it was legit now? Other people have gotten gift cards that are inactive and spend months trying to get it corrected, but then there are people who never get the gift cards they 'bought' and can't get the points back. Some people buy items from 'retail partners' then are denied the points because the 'retail partner' decides to argue with MyPoints about providing the information.

Apparently the site was good a few years ago, but the company has been in financial trouble for years so more and more people are being scammed into spending time and money through the site (to build up the site traffic) then being denied what they're due. Even if only 1% of people lose out, are you willing to risk being that 1 in 100? I'm not. I have enough going on in my life that I'm not going to waste time on a site who doesn't care about their customers and has shady practices. Just the fact that they can't answer a phone makes them not worth my time. So if they allow my account to be accessed again in a few days, I will be closing it. The few points I acquired can be thrown in the garbage because I would need more than 10-20x that to get even the simplest reward. I'll stick with PCH (Publisher's Clearing House) because their customer service is so much better, they actually do award prizes earned for their surveys and won on their site, and their games are more fun!

I hope none of my sparkfriends are treated as I and apparently many others have been. But if you're a member, perhaps you should rethink your participation, do some research on the site's practices, and decide if the risks are worth it.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CTUPTON 11/1/2012 3:14PM

    news to me...

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EVWINGS 11/1/2012 12:00AM

    Wow! I've been on MyPoints since the late 90's. I have never had a problem. I never answer a survey anymore. I only buy when I need something anyway. I don't print anyone's coupons. One of the very best things MyPoints did for me was lead me to Spark People!! I usually save my points until this time of year and then use them to get gift cards or gifts for Christmas presents for Bob and our families. His sons love them from Amazon or Barnes and Noble. I get restaurant cards my niece's hubby and Target or Walmart for my great nieces and nephews.

Comment edited on: 11/1/2012 12:03:13 AM

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JAMER123 10/31/2012 11:36PM

    Thanks. I did have a MyPoints account quite a while ago and didn't do many surveys so they dropped me. I didn't need to go through all this when I was on so I am glad you shared. I will remember to not respond to them if they want to restart.

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IUHRYTR 10/30/2012 11:41PM

    Thanks for the heads up. -- Lou

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KATRENIAH 10/30/2012 10:44PM

    I've earned quite a few gift cards from MyPoints over the years, but I don't really purchase anything from there. I "earn" the points when I get 5 points for clicking onto a website, and I do a survey every once again. I refuse to download an application in order to print out coupons from ANY service; I get coupons e-mailed to me regularly that I can use, so I know that if they wanted to, any place could to it that way. That part has always seemed a little shifty to me. But barring that, I haven't really had any issues with MyPoints. Of course, I don't immediately expect the points to be usable as soon as I've "earned" them; a lot of online things I utilize work that way, and I'm not under a deadline to get a gift card. If I needed something like that in a particular timeframe, I would expect to have to work way harder than they require.

So I'm sorry you're having such a difficult time with them, and I hope you find somewhere that works better for you.

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SHERRYGAYL 10/30/2012 7:07PM

    Wow I've used mypoints for years and never had a problem with them. I almost never earn points through purchasing (unless it's something I'm buying anyway and then I might as well use a clickthrough for the extra bonus). I haven't been clicking the emails the last few months because I've been spending my time on other projects but I have traded points for several gift cards that always arrived within the stated time frame. Their toolbar is definitely crap, though.

I use swagbucks.com a lot. I try to get $25 in amazon.com credits every month. It's not much but it is free books, crafting supplies, etc. They also offer coupons and clickthrough shopping. When I print coupons I usually do it through them. It does take quite a few weeks for the swagbucks to post to my account from coupons but with the savings plus 10SB each (eventually), it's all good.

If you get a lot of Coca-cola products, mycokerewards.com is also worth the time. I haven't been buying coke products much of late so I just need to trade in all my points for merchandise and be done with them.

Andrews_Mom, I'd like to ask what you're selling on ebay and how expensive it is to get involved with it. I haven't got much around the house I can sell and I just don't have the money for an investment.

Good luck! And if you do come across a work from home deal that pays the bills, please feel free to pass it on! I'm really having financial issues myself!


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ANDREWS_MOM 10/30/2012 6:46PM

    Wow! That really stinks! I never heard of that site or a system like that to earn gift cards. It would be a great thing IF it did work for you.
I can certainly relate to financial issues. I think many of us are struggling these days. Have you ever considered doing ebay? I've been doing it on & off for many,many years...consistently for the last 4 or 5 years. It allows me the flexibility to stay home w/ Andrew & work only when I have time. Ebay & paypals fees have gotten ridiculously insanely expensive- BUT they're THE place to be to sell- with all the traffic they get through there. I know i'll never get rich there, but it allows me to make some extra money and at my schedule/pace. This is actually the busiest time & easiest time to make money on ebay (sept, oct, nov, dec are the best from what i've seen)- i took the summer off of it & started back about 3 weeks ago. If you want any more info on it or tips- just email me.....
Keep your chin up & know you will get through this!

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Are Good N Natural bars actually good and natural?

Friday, October 12, 2012

Awhile ago there was a coupon for a free Good N Natural bar in the paper so people can try it. Trying to find a store that carried them was nearly impossible. The one store I found was always sold out because people would raid for the coupons and buy out the entire stock for free, even though the coupon says 1 per person, thank you coupon hoarder cheaters/stealers! (Way to screw over those of us who are following the rules of the coupon!) Finally with 2 days left on the coupon they had one I could try. Yeah, I think these are CRAP!

First, we all know that the words "good" and "natural" are subjective. You can call anything natural, no matter what it is, and not have any consequences. To have it in the brand name is deceptive and will help them bypass any laws that ever happen to define the word "natural" by law.

Second, it says "whole food energy", which is just worthless marketing words with no real meaning. Considering it has an expiration about a year after it was probably made (I bought mine in Sept and it expires in June next year), it is NOT whole foods. Whole foods are foods that go bad in a few days or weeks, not a year. Also, whole foods are not foods that are ground and processed until you can't even tell what it is when you look at it.

Third, it tastes awful. It's held together with a thick, syrupy mess. There is very little fruit, even though it says "sun valley's fruit, nut, & seed bar". It's not so much sweet as grainy sugary over oat and nut powders with a few small pieces of cranberries mixed in.

Fourth, let's compare nutritional information with Emerald Breakfast on the Go Apple & Cinnamon with oatmeal clusters. The GnN bar has a gelatinous appearance with few discernible ingredients while the BotG has several whole almonds, significant dried apples and raisins in addition to the oatmeal clusters. The GnN bar has 2 oz for 230 calories while BotG has 1.5 oz for 170 calories. The GnN bar has 9 grams of fat with not a single whole nut or seed while BotG has 5 grams of fat with whole almonds. GnN has 5 grams of FAKE fiber (I'll talk about this next) while BotG has 3 grams of fiber mostly from whole ingredients. The first ingredient of GnN is "gluten free rolled oats" while BotG is "apple oatmeal clusters" made from "whole grain rolled oats". Most of the ingredients in the GnN bar are "organic" which, again, has no legal definition. Most of the ingredients in the BotG appear to be laboratory ingredients. (To be fair, they're not really from a lab.)

Lastly, if you haven't read about fake fiber yet, inform yourself: www.dailyspark.com/blog.asp?post=pro

Now looking at the list of ingredients again, here are the fake fiber ingredients I spotted in the GnN bar: brown rice syrup (2nd ingredient), soy protein isolate, pineapple syrup, chicory root fiber, brown rice flour, vegetable glycerin, soy lecithin, and peanut flour.
The BotG has: wheat fiber, rice starch, sunflower lecithin, brown rice syrup (these 4 are small percentages of the oatmeal clusters) and soy lecithin (2nd to last ingredient in the covering on the almonds).

Also, while the BotG says "natural flavors" and "natural and artificial flavors" in the ingredients, they don't claim to be "natural". The GnN bar says it is "whole food energy", "vegan", the name claims it is "natural", and many ingredients say "organic", so what are the "natural flavors" being put in there? If they're natural why not say what they are?

This shows how important it is to look at what we're really eating. Just because something claims it is "whole foods", "natural", and "organic", doesn't mean it is. Every one of those words is lacking a legal definition that can be manipulated to mean anything for any food. Also, if your digestive system isn't used to fake fibers and you ate the Good n Natural bar thinking it will be what it claims to be, it could mean serious consequences to your body. And it doesn't even taste good!

Are either of these choices better for us than the real whole foods made into healthy foods by our own hands, no. Is one better than the other? That's up to you to decide, but I'll go with the Breakfast on the Go because they're not making marketing lies on the package and has a much less chance of making me sick (my body doesn't like fake fiber, so now that I've eaten the GnN bar my body won't like me for a few days). I won't be buying any more Good n Natural bars. If I get any more free, I think I'll give them away.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JOYCECAIN 10/17/2012 7:37PM

    I tried them a while back, you know they are bad when the Dog, turns her butt to you and walks away.

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SHERRYGAYL 10/12/2012 11:31PM

    Yuck, they don't sound very good! But doesn't "organic" actually have a meaning in regards to how it's grown/produced and pesticides/fertilizers? I could have misunderstood something else at some point... it happens! Thanks for talking about your experience with the bars. That kind of thing is NOT cheap and to pay for it and get that? Ugh! Plus I'm definitely feeling you on the couponing. So-called "extreme" couponing is just hoarding by another name and hurts legitimate couponers and those who need the little extra to get enough groceries for their families!

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