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The Week In Review: I Dream of Jiu Jitsu

Sunday, October 23, 2011



No, this is not me...but it will be soon... Images from http://www.briansgeniebottles.com and http://3.bp.blogspot.com.



I absolutely adore my new gym. Not to sound like a nut, but I feel like I have missed out on the past few years of living with being away from real martial arts training. My other kickboxing gym just didn't cut it and I have quickly realized that I hadn't really learned anything there. I think all of us have our little fitness niche, and for me, it is martial arts. Nothing else even comes close to igniting that fire in me. Martial arts is way more than just physical activity, though; it is a lifestyle. In a way, I feel like I've had a fresh start with this whole journey with going to my new gym. My only regret is waiting so long to find a new place, but it was the right place and the right time, so it's happening now. I have been enthusiastically hopping out of bed to get to Muay Thai for the past month, and had been tacking on boxing for additional exercise. But something has been missing and I just hadn't been able to grapple it...

I dreamed of Jiu Jitsu this week. I had done some Jiu Jitsu a few years back when I was training with a mixed martial arts team. My coach, Kru Mike, is one of the best Muay Thai instructors in the country, but I wasn't grasping grappling techniques. He wanted me to focus on Muay Thai only when I just wasn't getting it. That was fine; I really stunk at Jiu Jitsu. I don't feel that I focused on it very well, though. The gym I go to now is known for it's Jiu Jitsu program, and I was thinking that I would give it another shot at some point.

Jiu Jitsu is the class before Muay Thai. I've been watching these guys for a month now and had been toying with the idea of trying it out again, this time learning from esteemed instructors. I haven't been terribly thrilled with the boxing classes, in which I have been wanting to learn actual boxing techniques. It is more of an aerobics class, which is not what I'm looking for. The boxing trainer, Ty, also seemed frustrated with the limitations I have because of my knee in being able to do conditioning drills. Of course, ironically, my bad knee was the reason I was doing boxing in the first place. I had asked the gym owner and head Jiu Jitsu instructor, Nate, about doing Jiu Jitsu eventually when I first joined; I just wasn't sure if I was up for the challenge yet.

I came home from Muay Thai on Wednesday and took a nap. I had a dream that I was learning Jiu Jitsu. In my dream, Nate made me take him down several times (and this is a 6'+, 200+ pound guy--he was even bigger in my dream). I took him down easily and felt very powerful. I felt like I could take on and do anything. I woke up with an overwhelming urge to do Jiu Jitsu. I mean, I wanted to do it right that second. I immediately wrote to Nate and asked when I could get started on Jiu Jitsu training. He told me to show up any time, so I have my first class tomorrow. I will be doing Jiu Jitsu followed by Muay Thai 3-4 days a week. Now, I realize Nate won't be so easy to take down in real life, but I will gain some valuable skills in trying to do so, and will hopefully get very strong. I will be the only woman who does Jiu Jitsu regularly; I guess there is another woman who shows up sometimes, but women don't seem to be interested in Jiu Jitsu. Working out with the guys will be a challenge, but I know they won't go easy on me because I'm a chick, so I have to be ready to fight back. I'm fortunate in that I don't get intimidated easily...




Nate, Jiu Jitsu instructor; image from http://www.nextlevelcombat.com



Jiu Jitsu class at my gym. Image from http://www.facebook.com/pages/10th-Planet-
Jiu-jitsu-St-Paul-MN/120855144613201



Image from http://www.victorytapout.com/pictures/JIU_
JITSU1.jpg



I got to do Muay Thai sparring yesterday, which was the first time in several years. My other gym did not allow me to spar, but the fact is, you can't learn Muay Thai without it. Sparring helps me learn my strengths and weaknesses. It is intense and sometimes nerve-wracking, but I'm happy Eric asked me to try it. There were only 3 of us (myself and 2 other male students), so we took turns. They really challenged me and forced me to think about what they were going to do. Eric helped me with blocking and counter attacks. It was an intense workout, but since it was so mentally taxing, I didn't even notice the physical exhaustion. I had a great time and will do sparring every Saturday.

A few years ago, when I was training with Kru Mike, my life revolved around martial arts. Every choice I made was based on whether it would affect my training. "Do I want to want to eat that? No, I'll feel like crap when I'm training tomorrow." Now that I have a routine with my new gym, I have fallen back into that pattern of thinking. It doesn't mean I will never have junk food or a drink, but almost every choice revolves around whether it will affect my training. Martial arts has a way of focusing energy on a very specific task, with a support group that wants you to do well. That was what was lacking at my other gym--no one knew my name, people were rude, no one cared. I now have that camaraderie with a group and look forward to getting to know my fellow fighters even better. I am a martial arts student, and it doesn't matter that I weigh 254 pounds right now nor that I will weigh almost 100 pounds less next year. I feel like an athlete inside and out, and soon I will look like one. It is nice to know that my fellow fighters will not treat me any differently in between. I just can't wait until I look as fit as I feel.



Image from http://www.fighterwarehouse.com


Of course, I can't do martial arts all the time. I made an effort to do yoga more often this week. My goal is going to be to do yoga nearly every day, and I've been doing it either first thing in the morning or after I get home from work. I am aiming to do at least 15 minutes at a time. I am extremely inflexible right now, but I know regular yoga will restore and improve my range of motion. I feel so much less stiff this week despite beating the crap out of my body with Muay Thai. I have been enjoying yoga and am glad I have been inspired by SparkFriends like EMRANA and VALERIEMAHA to incorporate more yoga into my life. I hope the gentle strengthening in the legs will help my knee and help keep my spinal arthritis symptoms at bay. I'm hoping that activity will continue to be easier if I have better range of motion, although I know weight loss will continue to help with joint pain.

This week I shot past the 40 pound loss mark after a couple of weeks of starting my fat-blasting phase. I'm at a total loss of 43.8 pounds--50 pounds is so close! It's pretty simple: I just have to show up to my martial arts training and work hard, and the weight will come off. Martial arts is aerobic and anaerobic training, strength and endurance, fun and discipline all rolled into a single sweaty package. All that Muay Thai and Jiu Jitsu will just gobble up this body fat, and my strength training, yoga, Pilates, and walking will round it out. Of course, eating right has helped, too.

My eating has been mostly spot-on, with a few indulgences, but I'm burning around 7,000 calories a week right now, so I'm not too worried about it. I've noticed that my appetite has really regulated itself. I went out for Thai food for my mom's birthday, and even had a piece of cake, but then I wasn't hungry for the rest of the evening. That used to be unusual, as I would feel ravenous within a couple of hours of any size meal. Now I feel like I have the appetite of a lean person, and my brain and stomach communicate now (and the emotions usually agree, too). The rest of this weight loss journey feels like it is very doable because I'm not on a diet. I eat Thai food and cake, fries and beer, pizza and brownies, but only sometimes...and only when I really want them. The guilt and shame I used to feel with food is gone.

As a reward for my 40 pound loss, I treated myself to some new cloth pads from Party in My Pants ( partypantspads.com/ )--yes, reusable menstrual pads. If you've never tried reusable pads, I highly recommend this company--cute fabrics, too! (I figure any men that may come across this blog are mature enough to handle the mention of menstruation emoticon). I switched to using these about a year ago and have never looked back. I spent about $100 on more pads, and those will last me for years.



Examples of Party in My Pants pads. Image from http://cupwire.ca/articles/40853


I blogged yesterday about seeing John Lithgow talk about his memoirs and getting to meet him briefly when he signed my copy of his book. I will always remember him saying, "Erin!" I had a great time with my brother, too--we talked, real conversation, instead of sitting in awkward silence. Exercise has brought us together, plain and simple. He started doing marathons because of me, and I am tickled to be someone's fitspiration. Kickboxing gave us time together where we could get to know each other better through movement, which led to real conversations. I finally have the little brother I always wanted; it makes life a lot richer.

This was a big ol' week for me with lots of excitement--and I'm pleased to know that it will only keep getting better. Well, I think I've covered everything--Jiu Jitsu, Muay Thai, losing 40 pounds, John Lithgow, menstruation...hope everyone had a wonderful week!





"Weight loss is easy--all you have to do is work really hard at something you really enjoy doing."
-Me emoticon

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MORTICIAADDAMS 10/27/2011 10:20PM

    You are doing great!!

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CANNIE50 10/25/2011 5:17PM

    Amen to "looking as fit as I feel". You are something else, Miss Erin.

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MUSICALLYMINDED 10/24/2011 9:35PM

    You are such a badass!

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JITZUROE 10/24/2011 1:46PM

    You sound like you are in a fantastic place with the belly and brain playing friends! That is so huge! I am so jazzed for u!
Have fun at the new class and kick some a**!
Bren

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SYZYGY922 10/23/2011 11:00PM

    Congrats on your success!

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GABENSEBSMOM 10/23/2011 1:48PM

    So, so, so happy for all of your success, Erin! You are such an inspiration in all that you do! Keep up the fabulous work! emoticon

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EMRANA 10/23/2011 1:26PM

  I loved this! You are in such a wonderful, positive, place! It's very inspiring to read.

I also love that you've found your niche in the martial arts. I practice Integral Yoga, where we embrace and practice all the different branches of yoga, not just the poses on the mat. We take our yoga into every aspect of our lives, much like you are doing with the martial arts influencing what you eat and what you do away from the training sessions. It really does shape the entirety of your life in such a good way.

The yoga will definitely help your spinal arthritis. It's done wonders for mine as I've regained my asana practice after my ruptured disc. Who needs a spinal decompression machine when I can achieve the same results actively, and mindfully?

Congrats on the weight loss!! I'm so happy for you! I know it's been said many times, but there needs to be an "I loved this" button.

emoticon emoticon

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ALISHAB3 10/23/2011 11:17AM

    Erin- I'm going to tell you a little known secret, yoga is a forma of martial arts. There, I said it. Its true. So, in reality, you are doing martial arts all the time, its just different kinds. The yoga practices help relieve physical impediments to an effective meditation practice and if you really think about it, pretty much all martial arts is a kind of focused meditation.

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AIRPEACH 10/23/2011 10:08AM

    Congratulations on the loss, and all of the things you've been doing!
Never heard of party in my pants, I'll look them up.
Regarding martial arts, I love them too. I did Judo when I was a kid, and there is a lot of grappling involved in that. I tried Tae Kwon Do about 10 years ago, but it didn't feel right. I found Aikido about 6 years ago, and pretty well had to stop again within 6 months (finances and health), but I think that's the discipline I love the most, and I will get back to it. Good luck with your training!

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DDOORN 10/23/2011 9:22AM

    What an AWESOME job you're doing mixing up your workouts with yoga and martial arts!

Love your line: I just can't wait until I look as fit as I feel.

That's me whizzing along on my bike! :-)

Don

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DDESERTDDAWN 10/23/2011 9:06AM

    Wow What a week it has been for you!

I wish you great luck with the MA! How fortunate and smart you are to have found your niche and gone for it. BEING important to the team is important-- they will appreciae you and you them.

Congrats on your second gift to yourself. Loved the 'party in my pants' info and chuckle-- GREAT that we can finally have a sense of humor about this stuff. Thanks for heads up on the newer versions of re-usables felts! I, too just reached the 40pounds loss mark. Perhaps I will get a giftie for me, too!

Had to comment twice 'cause I just read two great blogs!

cheers,
dDawn emoticon

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APIRLRAIN888 10/23/2011 7:55AM

    Very interesting, go for it! Congrats on 40 lbs loss! And wow never heard on the party in my pant! How cool

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BECKY3774 10/23/2011 7:20AM

    Erin,
I'm so sorry, but there are no parties in my pants when it comes to menstruation. emoticon

You have had such a HUGE week! I'm in awe of all that you fit into your schedule, and all of the many classes that you are able to take. You are truly an inspiration to doing what you love to get to where you need/want to be. Kudos to you for figuring it all out! And Congratulations on the forty-three pounds!!

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JSALERNO 10/23/2011 6:33AM

    SURE DOES SOUND LIKE FUN

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SUNFLOWERSAVAGE 10/23/2011 2:46AM

    Congratulations on crossing the 40lb mark! That is awesome. That is a very interesting reward you gave yourself too! I have often thought of trying the cloth pads, I used to live in an area that people called "Granola Village" because there were a lot of "Hippies" in the neighbourhood...so , cloth pads were often discussed there. I am going to check out that site.
I love reading your blogs because your excitement about your martial arts training rocks!
Enjoy the rest of your weekend.

~D

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 10/23/2011 1:57AM

    I LOVED THE VARIETY IN THIS ONE, ERIN!!!
THE MENSTRUAL PADS CALLED PARTY IN MY
PANTS MADE ME JUST emoticon WHAT A
HOOT, AND HOW TERRIFIC FOR THE ENVIRONMENT!
GOOD LUCK WITH YOUR NEW ACTIVITIES AND SOUNDS
LIKE YOU FINALLY FOUND A GREAT FIT WITH YOUR NEW
GYM!!
ENJOY!
MARY
emoticon

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CHAOSTHEORY635 10/23/2011 1:35AM

    Staying healthy gets a lot easier when you get to the point where everything you do affects your training. Community is really, really awesome for helping you want to stay on track, too--I get the same kind of support at my Crossfit gym. Glad the new kickboxing gym is working out well for you. I still miss martial arts and have toyed around with the idea of doing something like jiu jitsu--I've always been a little afraid of being thrown around a lot, though. Perhaps that's unfounded? Can't wait to hear your account of what it's actually like!

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Uhhh...Hi John...Uh...Mr. Lithgow...

Saturday, October 22, 2011



My brother called me yesterday and randomly asked me if I wanted to go see Garrison Keillor interviewing John Lithgow about his memoirs today. The event was at the Fitzgerald Theater in downtown Saint Paul, the set of "A Prairie Home Companion." I happened to have tonight off because this was the day I was going to throw a baby shower for someone, but they decided they didn't want me to do that. Since John Lithgow is one of my favorite actors, especially after his character on Dexter, I said I would go.

John Lithgow wrote his memoirs titled "Drama: An Actor's Education" about his experiences with becoming and being an actor. I bought the book at the theater before we went in for the interview. We were in the third row right in front of Garrison Keillor and John Lithgow. I'm not terribly familiar with Garrison Keillor (what kind of Minnesotan am I?), but I knew he had a dry and witty sense of humor.

Keillor gave a wonderful introduction, and it was a pleasure to hear John Lithgow read from his book. I was a bit star-struck to see him sitting 10 feet away from me. The parts he read from his book were quite engaging and actually humble. He shared a story about reading a bedtime story to his ailing father that had me in tears. There was a Q&A part, and my brother got up and asked him if he enjoyed playing villains (he said he does).

He did stay to sign books, and fortunately I was in the front of the line. I kept wondering what to say. Do I call him John? Mr. Lithgow? Would he even care? Before I knew it I was in front of him, and I settled for, "Thank you so much for coming tonight, Mr. Lithgow. I really enjoyed it." Whew--I don't think I made an ass of myself.






Yay, I'm glad I got him to sign my book! And I got to shake his hand...



My brother and I went out for beers and food, and I actually had 2 beers, which is a rarity. I had a wild rice veggie burger and fries. Ironically, I was within the appropriate ranges for all the macronutrients today, which is unusual for me. All right, bring on the beer! (Just kidding.)
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

Overall, I was glad to spend some time with my brother. We had real conversation about all sorts of stuff. I'm glad that we have a closer relationship now than we have in the past. Just goes to show the bonding power of exercise.

What a cool evening!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LYNETTEMOM 10/26/2011 6:53PM

   
wish I would have been there: he's such a unique guy

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JSPIN74 10/24/2011 10:06AM

    what a great evening with your brother (sounds like it for sure)...and i LURVE Mr. Lithgow myself...very cool :)

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HIPPICHICK1 10/23/2011 11:30PM

    How cool is THAT?!
emoticon
That trumps throwing a baby shower squared...or even to the 10th power!
I'm loving that you are your bro are hanging.
emoticon

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DDOORN 10/23/2011 9:21AM

    Lithgow is a WAY COOL fellow! How AWESOME to meet him in person!

Don

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DDESERTDDAWN 10/23/2011 8:46AM

    Hey there. I'm envious too! Ever since Mr Lithgow showed up in The World According to Garp I've truly respect him and his style. What lucky happenstance that you were ready to go! How great that you took that invitation and had a great evening with your brother and John. heehee Thanks for sharing it.



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JITZUROE 10/22/2011 11:14PM

    WOW!!!! I am so jealous!!! I think I would have gotten flop sweat and ran away..... : ))))
Bren

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FRAN0426 10/22/2011 10:53PM

    What a wonderful evening for you and your brother to share, glad you had a great time---- to have stayed in your nutrition range emoticon

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GEOPENGUIN 10/22/2011 7:24PM

    I always liked him in the "odd" roles like Buckaroo Bonsai or World According To Garp!
Grats!!!

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PAMMY222 10/22/2011 6:46PM

    That sounds fabulous!! What a great event, and day, and meal!! Lucky girl.

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 10/22/2011 4:32PM

    OH GIRL! I WISH I COULD HAVE JOINED YOU. I REALLY LIKE JOHN, AH, RATHER MR. LITHGOW I MEAN, AND FIND HIM TO BE SO REAL AND UNPRETENTIOUS WHENEVER HE IS ON ANY TALK SHOW. I LOOK FORWARD TO READING HIS BOOK (ALTHOUGH, MINE WON'T BE AUTOGRAPHED)! LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK OF IT WHEN YOU ARE DONE. I LOVE HOW THE EVE FELL INTO YOUR LAP, AND WHAT A GREAT NIGHT YOU HAD, FROM THE GREAT SEATS TO THE AUTOGRAPH AND THE TIME WITH YOUR BROTHER OVER DINNER. JUST A GREAT BLOG. THANKS SO MUCH FOR SHARING IT ALL, IF I COULD NOT JOIN YOU, IT WAS THE NEXT BEST THING.
MARY
emoticon

Comment edited on: 10/22/2011 4:33:10 PM

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FROGGERHKC 10/22/2011 4:25PM

    How exciting! I would love to meet him, even for a minute!

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JILLYBEAN25 10/22/2011 3:42PM

    John Lithgow?! That is so mega awesome! He's the coolest! I would have totally been a blubbering idiot trying to talk to him. I admire you for keeping your cool. emoticon

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KKINNEA 10/22/2011 2:53PM

    Nice, I had forgotten that was going on but had heard about it. Sounds like it was a great time!

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AIRPEACH 10/22/2011 2:26PM

    sounds great!

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CANNIE50 10/22/2011 12:52PM

    What a wonderful evening, start to finish. I am so glad you were able to enjoy this with your brother. Thank you for writing this blog, I was able to enjoy this vicariously thanks to you.

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1HAPPYWOMAN 10/22/2011 12:40PM

    What a wonderful night! That's so great about you and your brother getting closer...

Last year, I watched every Third Rock from the Sun episode (in order, of course, because I'm finicky about that kind of thing.) That show has a lot of seasons! I laughed so hard! John Lithgow is so freakin' funny!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

By the way, HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!!

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HILLERYH 10/22/2011 12:33PM

    Garrison Keillor and John Lithgow?!?!?! Sooooo jealous!! At school, I put a stream of Prairie Home Companion podcasts in a playlist and nap to the sound of Keillor's voice. Its so soothing and relaxing.

Glad you had a good night though. And a wild rice veggie burger sounds yummy... Where did you eat?

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EMRANA 10/22/2011 11:50AM

  I don't even know what the best part of this blog is ~ so much good stuff in here! I'm glad you were able to experience such a fabulous evening and meet someone you've admired for so long. That wild rice burger also sounds reaaaallllly intriguing. emoticon

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GABENSEBSMOM 10/22/2011 9:16AM

    So glad you had a great night out! That's so exciting! emoticon

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NANCYRUBIO 10/22/2011 8:51AM

    How exciting for you--the night couldn't have been more positive. emoticon

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MUSICALLYMINDED 10/22/2011 8:42AM

    I always get kind of starstruck around famous people too, haha. I wouldn't know what to say, either :) Sounds like a fun evening.

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BECKYSRN 10/22/2011 8:34AM

    Cool....I like John Lighgow too! And I felt the same way when I got to meet Julie Harris when she was doing her Emily Dickinson show...and I still have the autographed copy of The Belle of Amherst that she signed for me...
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Comment edited on: 10/22/2011 9:21:01 AM

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APIRLRAIN888 10/22/2011 8:26AM

    Very nice night

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BECKY3774 10/22/2011 7:59AM

    I'm excited that you got to meet John, but I'm even MORE excited that you and your brother have such a special budding relationship. I am jealous of that, since we all know how I am with MY brother. emoticon

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JSALERNO 10/22/2011 6:06AM

    COOL, I LOVE JOHN!

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SUNFLOWERSAVAGE 10/22/2011 2:44AM

    I am super jealous!!! I love John Lithgow ever since I saw him in "The World According to Garp" and "Terms of Endearment"...of course he was great in "Dexter" too.

Sounds like you had a great evening.

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The Week In Review: Ritardando/A Tempo

Sunday, October 16, 2011

ri·tar·dan·do/rētärˈdändō/
Adverb: (esp. as a direction) With a gradual decrease of tempo.
Noun: A gradual decrease in tempo.

a tem·po/(ä tĕm'pō)
Adverb & Adjective: In the tempo originally designated; resuming the initial tempo of a section or movement after a specified deviation from it.





This week had positive and negative aspects to it. I euthanized my 19-year-old cat Kaia on Tuesday, which was a difficult choice to make. I have realized since then that I had been really tormenting myself with the decision and now know that it was the best choice. Although losing a pet is always a negative experience, it was a positive choice for Kaia. Thank you for all my friends who stopped by my blog and gave me goodies.

I also finally saw a sports medicine doctor about the persistent pain in my knee. He believes that I have ilitotibial band (IT band) syndrome, albeit pretty severe. He actually encouraged my to do more kettlebell work, which is cool as most doctors shun kettlebells because they don't understand how to use them. He was also familiar with Pilates and yoga and encouraged me to do more of both of them. I got a cortisone injection and it does seem less painful, but still feels the same during activity. At least I don't feel like I will ruin my knee altogether by doing kickboxing, but I hope that he will do an MRI on it if it isn't improving over the next couple of months. I am also positive that weight loss will also continue to help my knee feel better. I just hope to be able to return to running at some point; I feel lucky, though, that I've been able to do kickboxing.

My eating this week has been mostly good, but I admit to a binge on Tuesday night after I got home from euthanizing Kaia. It wasn't "as bad" of a binge as some, but a binge nonetheless. I didn't eat to the point of feeling ill, though, and still got up and went to Muay Thai and boxing the next morning. Part of the reason I binged was because I didn't have any good food readily available in the house and I was genuinely hungry, so I ordered food (a slice of pizza, mostaccioli, a salad with tofu, and a vegan peanut butter bar). I need to be more vigilant about keeping satisfying food readily available in the house. I also haven't cooked in a while, at least not in large batches; with the cooler weather, I should make a large batch of ratatouille or chili.

This week was about as close to perfect with exercise as I could expect. I went to Muay Thai and boxing on Monday and Wednesday (2 hours each time) and Muay Thai yesterday. That's 5 hours of martial arts training. It will actually be a little hard NOT to lose weight if I'm working out like that; all I have to do is show up. I aim to do 5-7 hours of martial arts training a week, and this week was a good test to see how my knee would feel. It does not feel aggravated and feels fine during workouts. Eric, my Muay Thai coach, is sensitive to my knee issue and makes sure I modify if needed. There are a lot of knee strikes in Muay Thai, but my knee seems to do okay. But Ty, my boxing coach, seems a bit frustrated with my knee issue. He knows that a major reason for doing boxing is that my knee bothers me. I can do all of the boxing stuff, but no jump roping, ballistic conditioning movements, or deep bending motions. If he continues to be frustrated with me, I will tell him I don't need to be in his class if it annoys him that much. I'll see how it goes over the next few weeks. Ty is intense trainer, which I appreciate, but if there's something that will aggravate my knee, I won't do it. I'm not there to impress him. He seems to mistake my inability to do some exercises as unwillingness or defiance, and I won't let him trick me into pushing myself beyond what my body can tolerate.

I am almost done with my first round of Cathe Friedrich's STS program, during which I have been doing upper body only. My arms are noticeably different and have a lot more muscle tone. Now that I have a better idea of what is going on with my knee, I will return to lower body strength training. I will start STS again next month, this time doing lower body as well. Actually, my legs look pretty good with doing Muay Thai, Pilates, kettlebells, and band work; my calves actually look really nice, if I do say so. Doing more squats and lunges will help develop much-missed strength in my legs, though. The movements won't be as deep because of my right knee, but I still plan on doing some plyometrics to build power. I've backed off of lower body strength training for over a year, and I actually miss it. I look forward to doing more.

As usual, I felt like I could have practiced my saxophone more and worked harder. My teacher Jeff seems satisfied with my progress, though. Before my lesson on Tuesday, I realized I had barely practiced the week before, with getting ready to go out of town and then traveling. I was also not in the best mood on Tuesday with knowing I was euthanizing Kaia that night. I told Jeff I wasn't feeling the best and asked if I could work on an actual song rather than doing any other the technical exercises that I hadn't worked on. We worked on a section of a Handel piece I've been picking away at for a while.

I was hitting most of the notes correctly, but he said the piece had no life to it because I was holding back too much. I admitted how much of an introvert I am and I know that I'm very reserved. While I'm not shy, I don't tend to put myself out there in front of people I don't know well, and I feel very exposed when I play. He said, "I know, but you can still show off a bit." He marked 2 sections with "ritardando" followed by "a tempo." This meant that I was supposed to slow down during that part and play in a very showy manner, then return to the original pace of the piece.

"Uhhh...I don't think I'm really capable of showing off."

"Well, I'm an introvert, too," he told me. "Just exaggerate the playing; it may feel wild and crazy to introverts like us, but it will probably be just right. Just imagine you're saying, 'Look at me!'"

I tried playing it again, and it felt very uncomfortable to play in a show-off manner. I slowed down at the "ritardando" and played as exaggerated as possible. It felt a little forced to me to play in a way that says, "Look at me!" Jeff said it sounded much better.

Maybe Jeff is right. I could stand to show off every once in a while; I've earned it. I tend to overshoot in most areas of life, and it usually comes out just right in the end. I should stand up and say "Look at me!" more often.




"For fast-acting relief, try slowing down."
-Lily Tomlin

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SABLENESS 10/28/2011 12:21PM

    Sorry about your feline companion. Even when it's the best decision, it isn't easy. Sounds like you're doing a great job of checking out the knee issues; it's always best to know what's going on so you can help and not further injure yourself. Hope everything's going well for you. emoticon

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JILLYBEAN25 10/21/2011 11:35PM

    My condolences on the loss of your beloved feline companion. I went through a similar situation several years ago; its difficult, but you know you did the right thing by ending their suffering.

I'm glad you have a sports medicine doctor that seems so knowledgeable! That was one message my sports nutrition teacher relayed to us a few weeks ago- sports medicine is a different animal than general medicine, so see a sports med doc for issues like that! I've never tried kettle bells, but have always wanted to. Awesome progress for you despite IT issues!

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 10/21/2011 6:27PM

    I HAVE READ YOUR BLOG TWICE NOW...I WAS NOT ABLE TO COMMENT FOR SOME REASON THE FIRST TIME AND THEN, AMAZINGLY, IT CAME TO MY EMAIL AGAIN, NOT SURE HOW OR WHY BUT...I AM GLAD YOU ARE FINDING SOME PEACE WITH KAIA'S PASSING...YOU DID THE RIGHT THING. AND HAVING LOST MY TWO "BOYS" THIS PAST YEAR I UNDERSTAND YOUR GRIEF! I STILL HAVE SORROW AND MISS THEM! I THINK IT GREAT YOU FINALLY SAW A DR AND HAVE AN ANSWER. AND YOU MUST STAND YOUR GROUND FOR YOUR OWN HEALTH!!
I HOPE YOU HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEKEND AND THANKS SO MUCH FOR MY GOODIE, IT REALLY CAME ON A DAY I NEEDED IT!
TAKE CARE, MY FRIEND!
MARY
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JITZUROE 10/21/2011 4:26PM

    Hiya! I never got the notice that you posted this blog (boo!!) I guess I will just have to stop in and check regularly, but that's no problem since I adore your photo!
I am so glad you got a solid diagnosis and that it is not a bone/cartilage issue. I had an IT band issue years ago, and as much as it hurt all the time (and I was worried it would never stop!), the strtching and regular massaging of it myself DID help tremendously.

I completely understand the binge too. Am I allowed to say on this that I am I did the same and had waaaaay too much wine trying to forget my sadness over my 19 year old cat when I had to put her down? Well, it's true. I wish you healing for your knee and your heart...
Bren



>



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GEMINIAN1 10/20/2011 12:54PM

    I'd be leery of anybody not taking a syndrome seriously.
I'm just sayin'; just my opinion.
Sounds like it's your opinion too.
Again, just my opinion; but, a good trainer would figure out what you CAN do, focus on that, and have you working on that while everybody else is doing what you can't?
I'm assuming that's what's going on; but, he's still frustrated with you.
Not very supportive and motivational.
Go you and Cathe ... emoticon
I hope you're having a great day my friend ... :-)
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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/18/2011 3:51PM

    IT problems are very common. I hope you can get it corrected soon.

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DDOORN 10/17/2011 3:45PM

    One of our local Sparkers has struggled with IT band troubles also...you might get some helpful pointers from her: LADYGWEN25.

Don

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DDOORN 10/17/2011 3:45PM

    One of our local Sparkers has struggled with IT band troubles also...you might get some helpful pointers from her: LADYGWEN25.

Don

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ALISHAB3 10/17/2011 11:43AM

    I have a friend that has had success using a foam roller. You might look into that.

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HIKINGSD 10/17/2011 1:17AM

    ((((((hug))))))

What a difficult decision to have to make. I believe you have done the right thing too.

Hope your knee feels better soon!

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CHAOSTHEORY635 10/17/2011 12:29AM

    highly recommended: http://is.gd/I0zzyd
if you're doing squats, make absolutely certain your tight IT bands don't lead to your knees caving in! keep your knees OUT or you will see more knee problems in the future. (a warning from experience and definitely not in the spirit of "omg don't do squats"--squats are awesome! if you make sure to do them correctly.)

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MUSICALLYMINDED 10/16/2011 10:50PM

    I do love the music references! Haha I just taught some of my elementary students the term "ritardando." They were going to sing in a statewide choir with other students and I reminded them that if the conductor tells them to remember to do the "ritard" not to laugh. They thought that was hilarious. Ha- kids are funny.
You are learning some great life lessons in your sax lessons...it's great you are taking so much from it.
Speaking of knee issues, I have had some weird soreness in my knee. It mostly acts up when I do lunges. Then again last week when I did Zumba two days in a row. I'm trying to give myself a resting day in between classes because it's so high-impact. I hope I don't develop an injury from doing too much. I think you're right to do what's best for yourself and not risk an injury in your Muay Thai class. Don't let him to convince you to do something to harm your body and set you back.

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CANNIE50 10/16/2011 9:19PM

    There are great stretches for I.T. band (which I am sure you doing) and my friends with IT band issues who do these stretches regularly do get relief from them. I am so glad you have a doctor who is supportive of your fitness pursuits, and knowledgeable as well. Good for you for not caving for an annoyed fitness instructor. It is not easy to hold our ground but we are the ones who will suffer the consequences if we do not. I am glad you have some peace of mind about your beloved Kaia. emoticon

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 10/16/2011 6:25PM

    WELL, LOOK AT YOU!!!!! emoticon YOU BET YOU DESERVE IT, AND FOR MANY REASONS! EXPAND YOUR WINGS AND IF YOU CAN'T FLY, ATLEAST YOU CAN SHOW YOU HAVE WHAT IT TAKES, AND FEEL EMPOWERED!!!!
CONTINUED SUCCESS!
MARY
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APIRLRAIN888 10/16/2011 5:15PM

    Hug great blog sounds like u r doing the right things

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NIAGCHRIS246 10/16/2011 5:00PM

  My condolences on the loss of your long time friend. I know the feeling of making that last choice for your beloved pet.

Did you check the drugstore for support wraps for your knee? I have used them when I injured my knee, they are very effective and not terribly uncomfortable.

Music is a great way to lose shyness. It is one place where you can legitimately show what you got!

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Wearing Down Willpower

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The blog post by CANNIE50 a couple of weeks ago about willingness versus willpower got me thinking how I approach the use of willpower in trying to lose weight. I have tried to focus more on "wantpower" than "willpower" throughout this journey, because I find trying to exert willpower to be exhausting. Now it turns out that constantly trying to exert willpower may actually be exhausting. The book “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” by Roy F. Baumeister and John Tierney discusses the strength of willpower, and how it can be worn down like any other "muscle." I have not read the book yet, but I plan on getting it after reading the review that was shared with me. The book covers some of the research that has performed on willpower, a generic term used referring to exercising self-control.

Willpower supposedly makes it easier to resist temptation. However, the arguing back and forth in our heads when we are trying to resist temptation may ultimately make it more difficult to resist not only that temptation, but subsequent temptations. Just like holding a 100 pound barbell up in the air wears down muscles, we can only exert mental energy for so long. The authors discuss how willpower actually seems to be fueled directly by glucose, which makes sense, as glucose is the only useable form of energy for the brain. Research had shown that it was easier to resist temptation when people had recently had a simple carbohydrate source. Rather than being mind over matter, it seems to be mind AND matter.

We can't starve our willpower. Just like our muscles need the proper fuel to work properly, so does our willpower. I would say that the evidence of glucose being a necessity for fueling willpower shows the importance of physical activity in losing weight. Regular exercise, especially muscle-mass building strength training, greatly increases the body's ability to utilize and make glucose. Perhaps this is why the appetite seems to self-regulate with regular exercise; the mind more easily exerts its own willpower without us even having to think about it. When we aren't focusing so much on exerting willpower and thinking about what we can't have/do, then we can focus on what we're willing to do.

Perhaps another aspect is that positive thinking is a lot less exhausting than negative thinking. The words "No" and "can't" actually seem to wear down willpower even faster. It does seem that the power of willingness harbors positive energy, especially when we know why we're willing to do something, whether it be resiting a temptation, choosing to exercise, or tackling a chore. CANNIE50 talked about how momentum can be built by having the willingness to start a task and how we may then be willing to do more and more. I like this way of approaching willpower, because it focuses on what we can do rather than what we can't do. Since thinking of it this way, I think, "I can choose not to have/do X" instead of, "NO, I can't have/do X," which brings negative energy in and wears down willpower.

In any case, I find the interplay between willpower and energy to be fascinating. It's simple: self-control is easier when properly fueled and when spurred on by positive energy. When someone says, "I just have no willpower," they probably really mean, "My willpower has been worn down." Approaching this journey without relying on steely-faced willpower has made it possible for me to learn a lot about myself and find out what I am capable of doing. I have unleashed my willingness and let my willpower naturally spill forth.

I had never really stopped to think about how willpower really works, and I look forward to reading “Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength” for further insights. Here is a link to one of the book reviews that was shared with me by Calvin Dietz, the strength training coach for the Minnesota Gophers:


www.newswise.com/articles/view/58108
5/?sc=dwhp



And if you missed CANNIE50's fabulous blog post "Willingness is a superpower," here it is:


www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4508706






"The will to win is not nearly as important as the will to prepare to win."
-Bobby Knight

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WATERMELLEN 10/14/2011 4:49PM

    What a great blog! "I can resist anything but temptation": in my view and experience, willpower is highly overrated and easily exhausted. Far better for me to avoid situations in which I will have to exercise willpower (or won't power) and to put myself into situations where the decision has already been made. Such as pretracking me meals. And having fresh raspberries but no potato chips in the house!!

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 10/14/2011 4:11AM

    BECAUSE I HAVE WILLINGNESS, I HAVE WILLPOWER!!!
I LOVED CANNIE50'S BLOG AND REALIZED I HAVE A "READY AND WILLING" ATTITUDE WHEN I FOUND SPARKPEOPLE...AND THAT ACTIVATED MY WILLPOWER. THEY SEEM TO ME TO BE CONNECTED, BUT I NEVER REALIZED IT UNTIL RECENTLY!!
MARY
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CANNIE50 10/13/2011 11:56PM

    Okay, I LOVE this blog (and not just because of the generous shout-outs you gave me, either emoticon) I have long noticed that the more I have to grit my teeth and deal with stressful situations in a day, the more I feel like a desire to eat my weight in sugar hits me like a tsunami, hours later (oh, dear, I do like hyperbole, don't I?). I, too, am fascinated by this phenomenon and I have noticed how many people give up before they start because they feel they have no "willpower". That is why I prefer willingness, because I know that awful "I won't be able to, so why even start?" kind of defeatist attitude. I prefer to think I only need a moment of willingness to get me moving in the right direction, rather than the awful thought of needing hours of willpower to get me through something difficult. Bless you, my dear - you are SO generous with your fierce intellect and the rest of us benefit.

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1HAPPYWOMAN 10/13/2011 11:26PM

    Wow! So true! And so fascinating to think about the biochemical underpinnings of willpower and positivity. Have you noticed how many of the people who are doing really well on Spark are fanatically optimistic and upbeat? Witness the profusion of 'Woo-hoos.'

I never really understood the concept of willpower; I couldn't even grasp what people were talking about when they used the word! When someone says that they have no willpower, it sounds to me like they're saying: "I don't want to do this thing, but I think I ought to want to do it, and I feel crappy about not wanting to." Very defeatist and sad.

A friend once told me that she didn't understand willpower either. What she understood was desire, and cultivating it -- making it grow until it is a strong enough force to motivate change.

Comment edited on: 10/13/2011 11:26:47 PM

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JILLYBEAN25 10/13/2011 10:16PM

    I think in many ways that's correct. I'd be interested in what you think once you've read the book. It's amazing what some simple rephrasing or adjusting can do for a person.

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MUSICALLYMINDED 10/13/2011 6:59PM

    Positive phrasing is a great thing. I learned this in educational psych - Put a child in a room with a lamp, then say "Do NOT touch that lamp." Then leave. What's the child gonna do? Touch the lamp. DUH. You're putting it into your mind by constantly thinking about what NOT to do. Wanna eat better? Shouldn't think, "Do NOT eat sweets." Think, "Eat lots of fruits of veggies." It's simple but it just makes sense.

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ILOVETOCRUISE 10/13/2011 4:51PM

    Interesting blog. Thank you.

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JSALERNO 10/13/2011 4:40PM

    THAT'S FASCINATING. I DON'T LEAVE IT ALL UP TO WILLPOWER. I DON'T BUY JUNKFOOD SO WHEN I HAVE A CRAVING I HAVE TO EAT SOMETHING HEALTHY. FRUITS, VEGETABLES, NUTS, YOGURT(NOT HE SUPER HEALTHY YUCKY KIND EITHER), OR A GRANOLA OR FIBER BAR. I HAVE ONE BAG OF COOKIES IN THE HOUSE AND YOU COULDN'T PAY ME TO EAT THEM. THEY ARE NICK'S FAVORITES THOUGH.

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SKYWATCHERRS 10/13/2011 4:23PM

    Interesting thoughts here, Erin. I firmly believe that the way you talk to yourself is indelibly chained to your approach to everything in your life, but more specifically weight loss. Like you were saying - if you say to yourself, I CHOOSE X, Y, Z instead of focusing on NO and I CAN'T HAVE, the whole process is a lot easier. Positive, definite, strong self-talk is, in my opinion, vastly and tragically underrated and under-used. You can see it in a lot of blogs and message posts here on Spark. Change the way you talk to yourself and you change your whole life.

The other side, the bit about willpower being a muscle that can be worn down - that is fascinating to me, too. I'll have to do some further reading on this.

Thanks for sharing yet another awesome post.

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SCHWINNER! 10/13/2011 4:01PM

    Great blog, as usual!! :) I love the mind shift to "I can choose not to do/eat X." I am going to try that, because saying "I can't have/do X" does not work!

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APIRLRAIN888 10/13/2011 3:53PM

    interesting I don't rely on willpower anymore! Its either do it or not!

I don't remember the last time I'm fighting!

its a struggle everyday but its an argument more than a battle or war each day.

and I think u r right about exercising making the decision easier! stay on track or undo all That blood and sweat! as I sit here in my car with my DD 10 piece nugget meal! no temptation what so ever

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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/13/2011 3:38PM

    Sometimes I don't think willpower is actually the way to go. It doesn't work as well for me as other things do.

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Kaia the cat: Sadness, relief

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


Kaia



My 19-year-old cat Kaia had a 2+ minute seizure the other night. It seemed that her seizures were getting more frequent and lasting longer. She was getting weaker and thinner. I would have been justified euthanizing her a month ago when I first started thinking about it, but I waited. I wasn't ready. She didn't seem quite ready. I was continuously afraid of coming home and finding her having a non-stop seizure and having to rush her in--this was not how I wanted her life to end.

After her seizure the other night, I noticed that she stopped grooming herself, a clear sign that she wasn't comfortable. I arranged with my co-worker to bring Kaia into her clinic and euthanize her tonight. It ended up not being the smoothest night--my mother and I came across a blind dog wandering in the street and had to deal with getting him to his home, and then my friend switched her shift with someone else and wasn't actually working. Kaia sat in my arms, though, until the veterinarian came in to euthanize her. I have been saying good bye to her for some time now, so I was ready. She went peacefully.

I wrote a blog telling Kaia's story about a month ago:

www.sparkpeople.com/mypage_public_jo
urnal_individual.asp?blog_id=4469592



I will miss Kaia. I also know I gave her 7 extra years that her previous owners would have taken away, and I got to have a great cat. There is sadness in her death, but also relief that she will never have another seizure, and will not continue to become sicker. The decision is never easy, but she is at peace now.




"You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity."

-Kahlil Gibran, "The Prophet"

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GEMINIAN1 10/20/2011 12:12PM

    Erin, I'm sorry you lost Kaia.
You gave her a good life.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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EVERSTEPH 10/13/2011 1:53PM

    Losing a pet is like losing a family member. Sorry for your loss. :(

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1HAPPYWOMAN 10/13/2011 1:49AM

    You are in my thoughts, Erin.

What a beautiful picture. I love the look on her face -- it's like she's calm and accepting, yet watchful and wary at the same time.


emoticon emoticon

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 10/12/2011 11:55PM

    You are a hero in my opinion! It's a difficult time and you probably feel a profound sense of loss, but think of how much you offered.

She was beautiful and really glamourous looking. I am sorry for your loss.

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MORTICIAADDAMS 10/12/2011 11:07PM

    She is at peace now. You gave her a good life. My prayers are with you. emoticon

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CHAITEAKITTY40 10/12/2011 3:37PM

    I just said goodbye to my 18 year old Shadow a couple of weeks ago. So hard to let her go, but we gave her a good life and she was happy till the end. I'm sure your Kaia was too. So sorry for you loss.
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KKINNEA 10/12/2011 1:35PM

    Sorry for the loss of Kaia - you gave her lots of extra, good years and she gave you joy. She will be missed.

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EMRANA 10/12/2011 11:33AM

  emoticon to you and to Kaia. You made a very brave decision ~ I know well the love it takes to do that.

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BAZOOKABOBCAT 10/12/2011 10:42AM

    I am so sorry and so proud of you for making the loving decision for Kaia. You made her life wonderful.



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FREESIA15 10/12/2011 10:38AM

    I am so sorry for your loss, but I think that you are right about her being at peace now. ((hugs))

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VALERIEMAHA 10/12/2011 10:22AM

    Thank you for offering the gift of life...and death...to Kaia and offering us the gift of Gibran's wisdom.
emoticon
You would know the secret of death.

But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?

The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.

If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.

For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.



In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;

And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart dreams of spring.

Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.

Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose hand is to be laid upon him in honour.

Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?

Yet is he not more mindful of his trembling.



For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?

And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?



Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.

And when you have reached the mountain top, then you shall begin to climb.

And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

-Kahlil Gibran, The Prophet
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SCHWINNER! 10/12/2011 7:30AM

    I remember reading your blog post about how you acquired Kaia. She was a lucky, lucky kitty!! I'm so sorry you had to make this decision, but you already know it's for the best. She is at peace now (aaaand I'm crying).

Hang in there - I'm sure she was grateful to you for the live you gave her! Thinking of you! emoticon emoticon

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BECKY3774 10/12/2011 6:53AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss, and happy that she's at peace. emoticon

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JSALERNO 10/12/2011 6:17AM

    emoticon I'M SO SORRY BUT WE CAN'T LET THEM SUFFER.

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MEWHENRYSMAMA 10/12/2011 1:48AM

    I remember a month ago your sorrow in knowing this day was coming. You did what was best for Kaia, and you gave her a loving home...the best we can expect in this life! Take heart in knowing she is out of all pain and discomfort and you were with her to the very end.
Peace!
Mary
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FRAN0426 10/12/2011 1:28AM

    So sorry for the loss of your Kaia, it never easy to put ones pet down--we have been there. You will have your wonderful memories of the years you spent loving and caring for her.

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SUNFLOWERSAVAGE 10/12/2011 1:12AM

    Big Hugs!

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TWO-TOO-MUCH 10/12/2011 12:41AM

    I'm so sorry for your loss, but you gave Kaia the ultimate gift of love. Hugs to you.

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CRABADA 10/12/2011 12:27AM

    I'm so sorry. :(

C.

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PONYFARMER 10/12/2011 12:04AM

    So sorry for your loss and stand beside you in the decision that you have made. I have an old dog that I watch daily to be sure she is comfortable and happy. I am in tears over your loss, knowing that i will be facing the same thing down the road, not to far away.

Hugs

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CANNIE50 10/11/2011 11:56PM

    I'm sorry. emoticon

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CHAOSTHEORY635 10/11/2011 11:47PM

    *hugs* kitties should be immortal.

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FANGFACEKITTY 10/11/2011 11:44PM

    emoticon

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APIRLRAIN888 10/11/2011 11:29PM

    Hugs! U r a good cat mommy 7 more years

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GSWINNIE 10/11/2011 11:29PM

    emoticon

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BECKYSRN 10/11/2011 11:09PM

    emoticon

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