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Christmas Newsletter 2013

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

I didnít send a Christmas newsletter this year. What was I going to say? Tom and I and the kids are fine, but it was a rough year for Dads?

My father died on March 1st, at the age of 99, and Tomís father died on October 10th, at 90.

One of my fatherís long ambitions was to live to be 100. When I saw him last January he said, ďI was born in 1913 and this year is 2013, so I lived to be 100.Ē When I reminded him that his birthday was the last day of the year, so he had a little ways to go to reach 100, he smiled and said, ďClose enough. Close enough.Ē And I knew he was ready. Six week later he got up for breakfast, got up again for lunch, laid down for an afternoon nap and died quietly in his sleep.

Tomís father George had a slowly growing brain tumor that reduced his ability to connect thoughts to words, and a progressive lung disease that made it difficult for him to get enough oxygen. His last few days were difficult, but his final hours were peaceful. He lived to be 90 and died in his own bed in the house he built 57 years ago.

Both our Dads lived long and productive lives. They spent their lives doing the right thing rather than pursuing happiness, but they were nonetheless happy men.

My husbandís Aunt Peg died this year, too, 15 days after her only sibling, George, at the age of 84. She had never married nor had children. She was well educated and an artist, but she never had to work for money. Her father left her the income from a family trust, and that supported her, but she had no ownership or control of the trust, and I think she deeply resented this. She was a very private person, but I enjoyed her company and I wish I had taken more time to get to know her.

People grieve in different ways. I joined a church. I was raised a Lutheran, and Iím more liberal than conservative, so I looked for a church affiliated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. My father always thought women could and should have whatever career they liked, so I sought out a female pastor. He would have liked Pastor Sarah. My new church has brought me a lot of joy and peace. I think the Lord led me there.

My husband is cleaning the basement. Iíve been telling him for years that he needs to sort through his stuff so the kids wonít have to some day. After his father died he stood in the living room of the house he grew up in and after looking around at 57 years of accumulated stuff, he said, ďThe kids donít want it.Ē Tom is finally going through all his old electronics, cameras, empty boxes, etc. and selling, tossing or donating stuff. If we live to be 99, like my Dad, we have 35 years left to play with our toys, but it doesnít matter. Itís only stuff.

Things donít matter. The people we love, and the people who love us back, matter.

I was sent a poem recently that I want to share:

Out of the World There Passed a Soul 

The day of my motherís funeral I spend clearing out
her overgrown flower beds, down on my knees
in the leaf rot, nut shells, tiny grains of sandlot sand
spilling from the runoff gullies. The hot work was to see
not feel what had to be done, not to go on asking,
not to wonder anymore. Full from scraps Iíd found
at the back of the refrigerator, her mongrel dog
lay curled on a stone and watched me work.
It was Sunday. The telephone rang, then stopped,
then rang again. By the end of the day, Iíd done
what I could. I swept the walk, put away the tools,
switched on the indoor safety lamps, and then
(it hardly matters what I think I felt) I closed
the gate on a house where no one lived anymore.

by Sherod Santos

I get these poems through American Life in Poetry, edited by Ted Kooser, US Poet Laureate. Please follow the link to the website.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TIME2BLOOM4ME 1/3/2014 10:10PM


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    What a wonderful blog. Both your dads were very lucky men--they lived long lives and got to die in their own home until the end. It even sounds like your dad was feeling pretty good right up until his death. To die in your sleep at the age of 99, we couldn't ask for anything better, could we?

I too follow Ted Kooser's column. He is a University of Nebraska adjunct professor and that is where I worked for 35 years. I adore his personal work, as well as the poems he finds for his column. When I started reading the poem, I thought, this sounds familiar!

Sounds like we have a lot in common, foremost our weight. What a struggle. I realized a long time ago, it was going to be a life-long problem, and would only be controlled with constant vigilance, and then I let my guard down a little bit and BAM! The weight started creeping up. I hit my 160 lb. goal weight in April of 2011, but eventually got down as low as 139, before settling back about 150 and staying there for a couple years. I liked it there and hope to get back there. We'll do it together. HAPPY MEDICARE AGE! Honestly I am looking so forward to turning 65, in two years, just for that reason! I only hope my Du makes it!!!

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2BDYNAMIC 12/20/2013 10:50AM

    Yes........... Life is short, isn't it ......... even if we live to be close to 100 ........... It is like a vapor of smoke compared to eternity. Good thoughts about cleaning up so the family does not have to go thru mountains of Stuff' accumulated over decades. This is something I work at continually.. One mans treasure is another mans trash" ............. kind of crude saying that is out there ........... But I think there is a nugget of truth in it .................. My Boss, 47, just died suddenly two weeks ago ............. shocked everyone! ........ When a co-worker expressed horror" I told him ................ "We will all die one day ................. we know not when ........... But the important thing is to BE READY and know the One who will give you life for all of eternity. (Mind if I send U a blog I recently wrote?) .................... Best wishes for a wonderful Christmas! emoticon

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SARAWMS48 12/7/2013 8:07PM

    Your poem reminded me of my first day after my mom died. I went through some of her stuff and tossed it, crying my way through the process. Later, I could donate the things that could be used and decide what things to bring to my house. The experience has made me continue to get rid of stuff at my own house so it will be easier for my kids when the time comes.

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SUSANNAH31 12/6/2013 12:27AM

    I'm sorry about the loss of both the dads in your family this year.

I'm glad that you found a church, and a pastor, to help you in the grieving and healing process.

I saw a saying recently at a church gift shop. It said, "The best things in life are not things." I completely agree with you that what matters most are the people we love.

The poem was beautiful. I clicked on the link and signed up for the weekly email.
Thanks for that.

emoticon emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 12/5/2013 9:54PM

    I hardly know what to say! Sad your dads are gone, but glad George is now pain free. Your dad sounds a lot like my dad - Dad said things like your dad.

I will have to see about finding a new Lutheran church home, too. I used to belong to an LCA church decades ago.

Despite the sorrows of the year, I hope the joy that you find in this community permeates through the season!

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SHOSHANADP 12/5/2013 7:42AM

    Beautiful entry.

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SHARON10002 12/5/2013 12:02AM

    I am so sorry to read about all of the losses in your family this year. I can identify what you and your husband are going through to clean out a house that's been lived in for 57 years. I did the same when my parents passes, and it was heart-breaking. To help myself over that hurdle, I donated everything that was in good condition and could be reused to Habitat for Humanity, or the Salvation Army, and some to the local historical society.
I do believe you were led by God to your church to help you heal.
The poem is beautiful.
You are so right that it is not the things in our lives, but the people in our lives that matter, and the love we give and receive. . .

Comment edited on: 12/5/2013 12:04:10 AM

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MOM2ACAT 12/4/2013 5:37PM

    I'm sorry for your losses. emoticon
The poem is beautiful!

I was raised Lutheran also, and belonged to a more conservative church.It was the same church my mom was raised in, and up until high school, I went to a Lutheran school. Now I belong to an Evangelical church and I feel much more "at home" there; the atmosphere at the church I am going to now is friendly and informal.

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CATLADY52 12/4/2013 5:11PM

    A lovely poem. emoticon

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KRICKET4 12/4/2013 3:22PM

    Sorry for your losses. Yes, everybody grieves differently. Sounds like you found a fine way.
What a wonderful poem. Thanks for sharing.
Wishing you a holiday season full of miracles.

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COACHPENNY 12/4/2013 3:04PM

    The Greeks say that you are already in your first year when you are I'd say you Dad made it to 100, too. Sorry for your matter how long they get to live, there's always one more thing to see, one more thing to say, one more song to sing.

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Earth Day

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I meant to post this yesterday, cut didn't get around to it. What are you doing to fight climate change?

Today is Earth Day. The theme this year is climate change.

Itís pretty obvious that the climate of the earth is changing Ė we are experiencing more violent storms and higher average temperatures, the oceans are warmer and the polar ice is melting.

I believe that human activities are causing, or accelerating, this change. The climate on earth has changed before, but never as rapidly as since humans starting using fossil fuels to power their electrical plants and automobiles.

I read an interesting book some time ago called Collapse by Jared Diamond. He writes about the collapse of previous civilizations, such as those that flourished on Greenland and Easter Island. Diamond says, very convincingly, that these societies collapsed after they cut down all the trees. Trees also take carbon dioxide from the air; so fewer trees mean more carbon in the atmosphere and more warming. Will we cut down enough trees to cause an earth-wide collapse of civilization? Itís possible.

Diamond also speaks of the problems associated with the United Statesí addiction to big cars and big, climate-controlled homes. He says the real problem is that the developing world wants the same cars and homes. He suggests we imagine what the world will look like when every Chinese family owns an SUV and every residence on the sub continent of India is air-conditioned. Even if the US froze their carbon emissions where they are today, would the rest of the world also freeze theirs? Itís going to be difficult to say, ďWe will keep our cars and air-conditioning, thank you, but you canít have the same things because of global warming.Ē

Our Congress could set strict fuel efficiency standards for vehicles and institute a carbon tax to help control carbon emissions from power plants, but I donít see that happening any time soon. So Iím not sure what we can do, except make small changes individually to use less fuel, and to save as many trees as we can.

My kids are doing their part. My daughter does not own a car. She depends on public transportation. My son has volunteered to help a group that plants and tends trees in California. They are both moving to smaller, more efficient apartments this summer.

I have enough trees in my back yard to call it a carbon sink. I drive a small car. Other than that, I can only pray that the world wakes up to the problem of climate change before it gets much worse.

I donít have any poems about climate change, so I am sharing one, just for fun, about squirrels.

Another Squirrel Tale

With them being all around my house
and even coming in at times,

how could I not have another squirrel
caper to report?

What I wanted to say of them was, that
I think they can give blessings. Surely
they are like little angels nesting in trees,
who like nuts.

I think they might even be able to
foretell winning lottery numbers, or
point out a good person to date, if you
are lonely.

But you have to be kind to them, or
they will never divulge they can talk.

From A Year With Hafiz by Daniel Ladinsky

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CITYZOZO 5/6/2013 10:19AM

    sing it, i totally agree

we use water from the kitchen in the plants, compost kitchen scrapes, compost garden plants, share a car, bicycle when we can, walk when we can, donate to enviro groups and get more and more educated on gl warming

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NOLAZYBUTT110 5/2/2013 6:05PM

    well, I recycle everything and I mean everything (even those plastic bags from roanges, I will crochet them into usuable items: bags and art.) I reuse paper towels after I use them , will save them in a bucket to reuse for wiping up messes on the floor, like a spill or dogs mess; double duty!) I also plant things. I wish I could plant more trees but my lot is very small. But I am trying to encouarge others to at least plant two trees on their rpoperty! (You are right about trees being cut down before a counyry is decimated!) Too many trees are demolished, and we should plant two more for each one that is destroyed!) (I learned that Christmas fir trees use up more oxygen so dont plant those! Plant shade trees. The bigger the better! )

People may call me a clown because of all I do to conserve , save and recycle, but I do my best not to use more than needed of anything. I feel we will be accountable. I also buy used clothing and shoes , except for underwear its all I buy new! I save all recycleables and recycle them too, we have a service that recycles. Sometimes I will reuse items like plastic before I recycle. I make templates out of many things for my arts and crafts. I also make my own envelopes from old calendars and such. I use the kleenex boxes for my arts and crafts. (You can make book marks from the pretty ones, or booklet folders for journals and the like; and can use other artsy things in scrapbooks. I save all the arts and crafts from magazines and recycle magazines among other paper things, and will even take some magazines to Drs offices or the hospital; a savings I am sure they aprpeciate! I feel every but helps save the earth! Its on going for me.

I also save rain water for my garden! Investing in a few containers to collect rain in does help! (I am learning how to conserve water and reuse water when I can. I take the water from boiled eggs or veggies and pour it into my garden , so its like you hit two birds with one stone, because the boiled water once cooled off from cooking your veggies can provide some fertilizer for your plants! (I use my old cooking oil to make soap and also to kill weeds along the cracks; saving me form buying weed killer, ( you just cant use it in the garden areas. But it keeps the cracks clear of weeds. (But dont put it where you or someone else walks! ) Every little bit helps! susana emoticon

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SARAWMS48 4/29/2013 7:24PM

    After having 6 kids, I thought I should make an extra effort not to add anymore to the burden I had placed on the earth. I chose to use old things rather than buying new as much as possible. We combine trips to save on gas. That said, I'm planning a flight to California next week that will cost more in energy use than all of the rest of my savings for the year. How do you travel? Is train travel more environmentally sound? Soon, five of my kids will be in the same town which will help me to drive and fly less.

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    I watched a movie called Dirt (on Netflix). It said that if we all started replanting now, in ten years we would have enough trees to help fight all the changes going on. I wish more people would watch it and see what we are doing to our planet.

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EGRAMMY 4/27/2013 10:07PM

    Great blog. Thanks

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CMADELINE1 4/25/2013 10:42PM

    I am passionate about reusing/recycling. At home I am very conscientious about composting, recylcing, re-using. Our trash bin rarely gets filled any more. I've also gotten off the consumer treadmill. Instead of recreational shopping, I only buy what I really need, and to the extent possible I buy used. In fact, I LOVE Craigslist for that. Also I live in the city, so there is a lot of trash laying about. When I walk the dog I pick up recyclables from the street and bring them home to my recycle bin--so it doesn't go in trash and go to the landfill. HAPPY EARTH DAY!

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SHOSHANADP 4/25/2013 2:29PM

    We both walk to work and use the car only when needed. I don't know that we are doing it for environmental reasons as much the fact that we live and work in the city, and much prefer to do things by foot and public transportation.

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LIVINGFREE19 4/24/2013 5:19PM

    We are slowly destroying the world, day by day!

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PINKNFITCARLA 4/23/2013 11:21PM

    Great blog!

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JUNEAU2010 4/23/2013 9:08PM

    Love the squirrels!

Living in the Bay Area has opened my eyes to a lot of things. I recycle/freecycle and do everything I reasonably can.

Thanks for this powerful blog!

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COACHPENNY 4/23/2013 4:56PM

    Absolutely..... this is important.

We recycle, bicycle, walk, use rain barrels and compost our kitchen cuttings. Our kids learned to do the same. I drive a diesel vw passat our daughter & SIL bought a diesel jetta. We both get about 40mpg on the highway. My daughter, is a teacher and they are educating the children about environmentally sound practices in school.

This does need to be a worldwide initiative. The US can be a leader by example.

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SUSANNAH31 4/23/2013 11:21AM

    It is true; squirrels can talk!

Global warming and climate change is an important issue, and I agree with you that I don't think our government is going to be of any help.

You are right about the younger generation, though. Both my sons and their wives are carefully recycling and composting. They drive hybrid cars. They buy organic fruits and vegetables for their little ones. They are doing things every day to reduce their carbon footprint. Some of it is rubbing off on my husband and me, but I do think it's our kids who are taking the lead with this.

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Wednesday, February 06, 2013

I wanted to do cycle spin classes for a long time, but I was afraid they would be too difficult for me. I finally got up my nerve and started last summer. Now I just love it. Cycle spin is a terrific workout, I really sweat like crazy, and my heart rate goes up nicely. At the same time, itís easy on the joints. My butt hurt for the first four sessions, even with the padded bike shorts, but after that it quit bothering me. There are all ages, sizes and shapes of people doing cycle spin. Donít think you have to be a super athlete to spin. If you want a good, fun workout, give it a try.

Of course, like any fitness class, the instructor makes a big difference.

My Tuesday night cycle spin instructor is Zack. He's a well-muscled, not too tall, blond guy. He's pretty easy on the eyes, in an innocent kind of way.

Zack is a little bit OCD as far as spinning goes. He times everything exactly, as in: We'll do a seated moderate climb for 20 seconds, followed by a seated difficult climb for 20 seconds, then a standing difficult climb for 20 seconds. Weíll recover for 30 seconds, and then repeat. He lays it all out for us, which is nice because I can really pace myself. He is also particular about having every joint and muscle placed exactly so - lift your hips one inch off the seat, lean forward, not too much weight on your hands, with tight abs and heels dropped.

He plays music, of course, as do all spin instructors, but it's just kind of background. If the planned routine is 3 minutes long, and the song is 3 minutes, 20 seconds, he turns the volume down for the last 20 seconds while he talks over it to get us ready for the next routine. It's a little disconcerting to never really finish a song.

But I sweat more for Zack than for anybody else, and all that structure makes the time go by fast, so he's one of my favorites.

My Saturday morning Cycle spin instructor is Jeff. He is a tall, muscular black guy with an earring and a Mohawk. When he is not a fitness instructor he sings karaoke. He was music major in college and he has an amazing play list. Sometimes at the beginning of class he sings along while we spin. (No one has breath to sing by the end of class.) Last week he was playing "Name the artist" for each tune he played. I am hopeless at that game, having absolutely no musical memory at all. I needed to have my son there. (He has an amazing memory for music.)

You would love Jeff! The thing about spinning is you set the tension on the bike wherever you want it, so you can work as hard (or not) as you like. Jeff is all about pedaling to the beat of the music. (Something I am also hopeless at - no rhythm - so I pedal to the beat of my own drummer.) His classes really are fun, so heís one of my favorites, too.

I do Mikeís class sometimes. He is a little disorganized, but he plays great music from the 70ís, which I love.

Brian is absolutely gorgeous, plays great music, and is totally structured, but heís gone back to school so heís not teaching any more. (Sob)

Steve is completely random, and more than a little boring, so I probably wonít do his class again.

Julie spins like an anorexic maniac. I wonít do her classes, either.

Debbie is calm and focused, gentle almost. I can do Debbie.

If you start to spin, be sure to bring a towel (for the sweat) and a big bottle of water. The padded bike shorts are nice, and so are the special bike shoes that clip to the pedals. The shoes make it easier to pedal in a full circle rather than only applying pressure on the down stroke.

So Ė conquer your fears and look for a spin class. If you donít like one instructor, find another. Keep going back until you toughen your buns. Pedal hard enough and fast enough to sweat. And enjoy!

Hereís a poem that really speaks to me now that I am retired and can do just about whatever I want:

Who Wants Those?

I am at a juncture now where I never have to
be serious again.

If I act that wayósober and concerned about
something . . . it is just a charade.

For people who are serious, well, letís face it . . .
they seem to have lots of problems.

And who wants those?

From ďA Year With HafizĒ by Daniel Ladinsky

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRACTALMYTH 4/20/2013 6:50AM

    Spinning sounds like fun. I look forward to trying it one day, but for now it is a narrow stretch of lounge room between the toys and an exercise video, or the great outdoors for me!

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SHIVAMOON 2/10/2013 10:02PM

    I enjoyed reading your blog and your poem. I'm so glad you posted them. I love your thoughts on retirement. I'm reaching a juncture now where I can soon retire or stay with the serious a little longer. Decisions to make, so I soak in perspectives and mull them over.

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LIVINGFREE19 2/8/2013 5:06PM

    That sounds really fun!! I am going to have to check around my area to see who might have these classes. Thanks for opening my eyes to a new exercise!

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BRIAN36 2/8/2013 12:16PM

    I am a spin instructor and reading your descriptions, I would describe myself as a cross between Jeff and Zack. I tailor the ride to the songs and prefer to have my class know what I'm doing with each song so they can judge their resistance and effort. I also do a name that tune and do my fair share of singing (not very well I'm sure). There are really only so many things you can do on a spin cycle so the music and the instructor can make or break the class. I figure I must be doing OK, because of the 4 different classes offered where I teach, mine is the only one with a waiting list.

I tell my new students it's their ride, I only provide the guidance and I welcome new students at all levels. You gotta start somewhere.

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CELIAMINER 2/8/2013 8:34AM

    Thank you for explaining just what happens at a spin class and what makes for great (or not so great) instructors!

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PETALIA 2/8/2013 6:07AM

    6 am, several times a week, 5 or 6 of us tops, would spin with Joe. I was up early and the combination of Joe's warmth and humor, a small group of regulars, and the workout itself made spinning a joy. Some years ago, I had a brain injury and cycling became only a dream. Now, I can cycle again (Hurray!) but spinning is not part of my life and Joe is no longer at my gym. Reading your enthusiastic blog post has rekindled my spinning memories. I am glad to hear you are having fun and sweating and never having to be serious again.

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WATERMELLEN 2/7/2013 8:02PM

    Glad you're hooked on spinning: and those easy-on-the-eyes instructors can't hurt at all!!

I've taken quite a few spinning classes myself and even have the special gel seat which helps a lot . . .

Gotta say, however, it's a bit tough on my very arthritic hands . . . sob sob. So not something I do regularly.

Thanks for the spinning goodie!!

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CATLADY52 2/7/2013 6:38PM

    It sounds like you are having fun. And that's one of the best reasons. emoticon

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NEELIXNKES 2/7/2013 6:36PM

    emoticon emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 2/7/2013 3:16PM

    Thanks for sharing about your spin class and the coaches. I will try this some day! Your write up is the best I have seen, so now I have a clue what to expect.

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4A-HEALTHY-BMI 2/7/2013 9:38AM

    I emoticon spinning too!

All of the instructors are different, and it's fun to give them my all, no matter what sort of class they structure.

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LEVELPATHS 2/7/2013 3:31AM

    Thanks for the goodie - no I've never span/spun! But thanks for the blog - I now know it's something I'd like to try! At the mo I'm walking and have been doing Callanetics once a week at home for four weeks. I'm gradually easing into the exercise thing, which I think is why I'm losing the weight consistently now! And I'm actually enjoying it! :-)

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PINKNFITCARLA 2/6/2013 11:35PM

    I love spin classes! So nice to read that you do as well :-)

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KALISWALKER 2/6/2013 10:10PM

    Thanks for the spin bike. I had to come read your blog to learn how to use it. You have inspired me!!! Thank you, I am joining a new gym in March and will give it a try.


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MSKIZ69 2/6/2013 9:58PM

    It DOES sound like fun!! Maybe I will give it a try-thanks for the great review!!

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GAYLSMITH 2/6/2013 9:25PM

    Is n't great getting older you don't have to take yourself seriously and onone else does either. I remember that poem from years ago.

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SHARON10002 2/6/2013 9:22PM

    Sounds like you have found an exercise you love to do. That's what we all need. My gym does not offer spinning classes.

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GETSTRONGRRR 2/6/2013 8:54PM

    Good on you, I'm a big spin class fan when I need a good hard cardio workout. As a matter of fact, if there isn't a class when I want one, I've just recently developed my own play list that gives me a great workout on a spin cycle.

Keep at it and spread the word!

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SHOSHANADP 2/6/2013 8:51PM

    The teacher can really make a difference. I've wanted to try spinning but I workout in the exercise room of my building. There is a bike there, and I use it on my "weights" days as my cardio. I make up my own routine, which I know is not as hard as spinning, but it's better than nothing.

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Aim High

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

We all have up days and down days. Some days we eat good foods in sensible amounts. Other days we fill up on junk. Some days we have fun exercising. Other days we sit on our butts and do nothing. This doesn't mean we are doomed to failure. If today goes badly, try again tomorrow. Don't give up if you are not perfect. Aim high and see what happens.

The following poem is so hopeful. I love it.


Sometimes things donít go, after all,
from bad to worse. Some years, muscadel
faces down frost; green thrives; the crops donít fail,
sometimes a man aims high, and all goes well.

A people sometimes will step back from war;
elect an honest man; decide they care
enough, that they canít leave a stranger poor.
Some men become what they were born for.

Sometimes our best efforts do not go
amiss; sometimes we do as we meant to.
The sun will sometimes melt a field of sorrow
that seemed hard frozen: may it happen for you.

by Sheenagh Pugh

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SHARON10002 2/6/2013 9:18PM

    Nice poem. emoticon

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JUNEAU2010 1/24/2013 5:39PM

    Aiming high in 2013~

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CELIAMINER 1/24/2013 3:08PM

    Glad I spent my short break time reading your blog!

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CATLADY52 1/24/2013 9:29AM


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PATRICIA4472 1/24/2013 8:38AM

    Thanks for this hopeful word this morning.

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HIKETOHEIGHTS 1/24/2013 7:49AM


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SHOSHANADP 1/24/2013 7:11AM

    I'm trying to remember the line from "Anne of Green Gable" (the tv movie): Tomorrow is fresh, with no mistakes in it. We always have the chance to start fresh tomorrow, and make the right decisions.

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CANDOK1260 1/24/2013 6:45AM

    Congrat on a great poem

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PINKNFITCARLA 1/23/2013 11:41PM

    That's awesome!

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ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 1/23/2013 9:41PM

    What a great poem! Thank you so much for posting it. emoticon

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COACHPENNY 1/23/2013 9:38PM


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TIME2BLOOM4ME 1/23/2013 9:35PM


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CMRAND54 1/23/2013 6:46PM

    The poet wrote it for a male friend of hers who was struggling with addiction. But I always think that women are just as relevant to this poem.

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SARAWMS48 1/23/2013 6:35PM

    Great poem and just what I needed today. Thanks!

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WATERMELLEN 1/23/2013 6:01PM

    Love the poem too! All about resilience, persistence. (Just always wanna change those male references to "and women also " . . . since we excel at these qualities!).

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A Poem for the New Congress

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The NRA is selling fear: Buy a gun because ďtheyĒ are coming to get you and a gun will protect you. Only a gun does not protect you. You are more likely to die or be injured from gun violence if you own a gun than if you donít.

The following poem is one Iíve loved for a long time.

ďTrue believers in liberty, and also securityĒ seems like an apt thought for the times.


The puzzled ones, the Americans, go through their lives
Buying what they are told to buy,
Pursuing their love affairs with the automobile,

Baseball and football, romance and beauty,
Enthusiastic as trained seals, going into debt, struggling ó
True believers in liberty, and also security,

And of course sex ó cheating on each other
For the most part only a little, mostly avoiding violence
Except at a vast blue distance, as between bombsight and earth,

Or on the violent screen, which they adore.
Those who are not Americans think Americans are happy
Because they are so filthy rich, but not so.

They are mostly puzzled and at a loss
As if someone pulled the floor out from under them,
They'd like to believe in God, or something, and they do try.

You can see it in their white faces at the supermarket and the gas station
ó Not the immigrant faces, they know what they want,
Not the blacks, whose faces are hurt and proud ó

The white faces, lipsticked, shaven, we do try
To keep smiling, for when we're smiling, the whole world
Smiles with us, but we feel we've lost

That loving feeling. Clouds ride by above us,
Rivers flow, toilets work, traffic lights work, barring floods, fires
And earthquakes, houses and streets appear stable

So what is it, this moon-shaped blankness?
What the hell is it? America is perplexed.
We would fix it if we knew what was broken.

Alicia Suskin Ostriker

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ADAGIO_CON_BRIO 2/7/2013 7:06PM

    Thank you for the poem. It seems to be a mostly candid and true look at the American psyche.

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SARAWMS48 1/23/2013 6:50PM

    Not how I feel, but an interesting, thought-provoking poem.

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SRBSRB26 1/22/2013 7:55AM


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BILLB000 1/21/2013 11:13PM

    I like this poem. Thank you for this blog and sharing the poem.

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    It's always interesting to read where everyone stands.

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TIME2BLOOM4ME 1/21/2013 6:50PM


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JUNEAU2010 1/21/2013 6:45PM

    I hope the new congress does not repeat the "do nothing" of the previous one.

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CATLADY52 1/21/2013 5:47PM

    That is quite a powerful poem. emoticon

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CELIAMINER 1/21/2013 4:23PM

    Wow, I never knew I was perplexed :-)

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COACHPENNY 1/21/2013 11:01AM

    This paints a bleak picture of America. I hope there are enough people who haven't joined the ranks of the disaffected and unfeeling.

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PINKNFITCARLA 1/20/2013 10:06PM

    Thanks for sharing!

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CANDOK1260 1/20/2013 8:46PM

    great blog emoticon for sharing

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