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Working the Spark: The Pay-Offs Keep Rolling In!

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Today started off with a bang when I hit my new low weight of the year...woo hoo! Only 17 pounds away from my goal of 200!

I had already had a plan to clear the closet of all my old clothes that are really too big. I don't want ANYTHING around to make it easy to backslide!

However little did I know what treasures I would find among the SMALLER clothes that I had forgotten I had outgrown! VERY nice stuff! And I'm re-kindling the fun and self-satisfaction of being able to look better in clothes. Not only am I shedding the pounds, but shedding the feedbag mentality! :-)

But the coolest thing I found of all? A few years back I had finally sprung for one of our bike club's jerseys. I am NOT a spandex kinda guy, but I love our club and wanted to be able to wear it with pride.

Little did I know how teensy their sizes ran. I was too embarrassed to take my XL back and ask for a TWO XL...! So in the closet it went.

Until now!

I do enjoy a little dancing in the privacy of my home with the right tunes playing...but I have NEVER danced the Linus & Snoopy dance with such abandon, vigor and JOY as I did this morning! Totally Cloud 9! No music required!

Passing on a whole lotta clothes for someone to use. The heavy duty 30 gallon bag is out in the car waiting to be dropped off...whew! Feelin' so fine!

Spent the rest of the day buzzing about the house cleaning, hauling stuff out to the car for the landfill tomorrow also...clearing the decks!

Also cooking up a storm, new soup o' the week a cauliflower, barley, celery, onions and garlic combo. I also have a bundle of asparagus for cooking but never got around to doing anything with it. I had a lovely conversation with my sister recently about re-visiting vegetables which had formerly been dubbed "yuck" veggies in my childhood. I've been wanting to see if they are still "yuck" or not. Already tried Brussels sprouts and yep, still yuck IMHO. She agreed, which had us chuckling, flashing back to various methods of ditching veggies we didn't like when we were kids. :-) I mentioned asparagus to her and she said she is a big fan of asparagus. I looked at some recipes, considered even adding them to my soup with the cauliflower, but then thought perhaps that would do a disservice to the asparagus...which btw was on sale for the low, low price of 99 cents a pound...prompting me to nab some to try. Perhaps I'll just try munching some raw? We'll see. Any suggestions out there? Stay tuned for asparagus adventures!

I'm back behind the wheel of a car again! So what's the first thing I do? Pack it up and head out to the fitness center for the first spinning class I've had in a few weeks...YES! I managed a nice balance between not overdoing it, but challenging myself into a good sweat. The best thing about it? My quads had been nagging at me since overdoing it with a 5 mile walk - jog I had done earlier in the week...putting the accent heavily on jog, thinking of my annual 5K coming in May. All the stretching and walking I'd done since then didn't seem to alleviate the nattering my quads were giving me. But when I finished my spin class? No more pain! Sweet double benefit!

Okay, going to wrap up with some fun stuff like Crazy Russian Hacker and cycling tidbits!

Crazy Russian Hacker cracks me up. Sometimes his schtick just gets me eye-rolling and smiling, other stuff is laugh-out-loud hilarity. This one with his mother is some of both. This one caught my eye as between my home made soups and home made garlic I crank through a fair amount of garlic and hey, an easy way to peel garlic? I'm up for that! Perhaps this is old news to some of you, even if so these folks will crack you up. Plus: I can vouch for the technique! It works like a charm!


Okay, on to a cycling smile:

As seen on Twitter: Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach him to fish & feed him for a lifetime. Give a cyclist a fish & "hmm...good for 150 km!"

I have to give a special shout out to Willie Weir and the chronicles of his cycling adventures around the globe. I know I've spoken of him before, but I keep ever-so-slowly progressing through his book SpokeSongs and find SO much delight in his stories! Not that I'll ever take to cycling through such daunting venues as India, South Africa or the Balkans...but I just love his way of opening up with people and inspiring them to open up with him. As he often says in his writings, if he was just another token tourist bopping about with backpack or luggage most people wouldn't give him the time of day. But to see someone rolling along on a bicycle toting panniers and camping gear...? As he puts it: "Bicycles Are Magic. They Open Doors."

Plus he's a cheapskate like me! Not that I would sign up for THIS cost-saving measure he took in the Balkans where they were going to charge him WAY too much for setting up his tent. He discovered that nearby campgrounds for nudists were half as expensive...off he goes! Wow! This guy really knows how not to push the envelop or think outside of the box...he TORCHES 'EM! LOVE his audacity and hope to pull more of that into my life!

Let's get Sparkin' our way through another week, shall we?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SASSYCHRIS1952 4/1/2014 9:25PM

    emoticon emoticon

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_MOBII_ 3/28/2014 12:07PM

    What a great blog! I am so happy for you and I can just picture you doing the Snoopy dance!
You are a great inspiration!

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IMSMILEY88 3/28/2014 9:54AM

    CONGRATS!!! And, I LOVED your post. Your enthusiasm & excitement are contagious! I smiled while reading the entire post. I'm STILL smiling! emoticon I hope you are still feeling that 'high' and doing all kinds of great things! emoticon

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SAM60SUMTHINK 3/27/2014 10:21PM

    CONGRAT'S!! And... how kewl that you are nearing goal at your 7-year Sparkaversary; it's only a few weeks off! HOW ABSOLUTELY FULLFILLING!!!! Wonder how close you'll get by then! Your new mantra while exercising - be it oncycle or foot - could easily be one with a countdown: "17-to-go, 17-to-go, 17-to-go".... "12-to-go, 12-to-go"....

Did I miss it... or... : what is your ultimate-goal reward going to be?

Um. Not a biking-camping trip to the Balkins???

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BOBBYD31 3/25/2014 9:56PM

    Asparagus- best i ever, ever had.
preheat oven to 350
hold both ends and bend until it breaks, toss the stem end keep the top
lightly coat cookie sheet with olive oil
cook about 10 min, roll then lightly pepper and salt
return to oven until tender depending on size about 10- 20 min
remove an cover with a coating of Parmesan cheese return to oven 2-3 min and then enjoy.

you can do the same with brussel sprouts. cut off bottom stem then cut in half. cooking time varies depending on size and thickness

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GIRANIMAL 3/25/2014 4:02PM

    Congrats on your weekend purging, particularly tossing too-big clothes and discovering ones that now fit! I love free shopping trips. emoticon

Roasting is MAGICAL for nearly any veggie, IMHO. Last night's dinner/today's lunch was broiled salmon with roasted sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, garlic and Brussels sprouts. emoticon I advise trying both B. sprouts and asparagus roasted (just like L-M said) -- in fact, roasting is what brought me around to once-hated cauliflower!

Tonight I am trying a "recipe" (not really) for asparagus with lemon juice and a little feta cheese, but I can't recall offhand if it's first roasted or steamed. I expect it to be delicious. (I married a Greek - I am now a firm believer that lemon and a good feta can take ANYTHING up a notch or two!) emoticon

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CZEIDMAN 3/25/2014 12:34PM

  Kudos to you. Also for Brussel sprouts- after roasting a whole pan (just a little olive oil with salt/pepper) toss with 1 tablespoon of maple syrup. It's not so much that it makes them syrupy- but takes away that "blech" part for me.
good luck.

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OUATEONE2 3/25/2014 10:58AM

    Congrats on continued success with weight loss and healthy lifestyle. And yes, cycling clothing tends to offer no cover for oversize humans; I don't think the cycling clothing runs smaller but that all manufacturers of non-cycling clothing are just making all clothes larger but still labeling them as a smaller size and the cycling clothe makers refuse to do so. Just my two cents, which does not get you much these days. Gotta read Weir, sounds great. emoticon

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CHANGE4FIT 3/25/2014 8:28AM

    Great blog, Don, and your energy is apparent in your writing :). Asparagus-love it and can't wait until those little spears begin to poke their heads up in their raised bed this spring!! We like it grilled with a little olive oil, salt and rosemary. I also like it steamed and cooled in the fridge-can eat it as a snack or side this way. Finally, the steamed asparagus is good in a frittata or omelet, too. I love brussel sprouts-ever tried them roasted?? Honestly, can't think of a veggie I don't like....this is a good thing :))
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RAINBOWFALLS 3/25/2014 7:41AM

    Speaking of garlic and asparagus - I love to add a little olive oil and grill or bake (roast) during the colder season. Keep on Sparking! You are doing fantastic!

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PATRICIAAK 3/24/2014 11:41PM

I enjoy steamed asparagus

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1CRAZYDOG 3/24/2014 4:47PM

    GOOD JOB!!!! I have donated a LOT of clothes in the process of progress on this journey. But it's such a good feeling.

Asparagus . . . have you tried roasting it with other veggies? I just roasted cauliflower, broccoli, sweet white and purple onion, celery,carrots and asparagus yesterday for the week. It gives a little milder flavor to the asparagus. You can season the veggies any way you like. I first put about 1 tablespoon of olive on the veggies, then season with pepper, Mrs. Dash, Worcestershire, onion and garlic powder and some Italian seasoning. Let it roast @ 325 f for about 1 hr. Check. I like the veggies al dente because they'll be re-heated anyway.

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RACEWELLWON 3/24/2014 2:16PM

    Better late than Never , to get here for me !! I am so happy for you , Don !! Major Congrats emoticon I just love getting rid of those big clothes - a whole new meaning to Spring Cleaning emoticon I donate to the homeless . That soup sounds delish !! Be right over - the Asparagus - I prepare in a Frita or egg white Omelet in the morning - quick and easy and tasty - or just steamed with Smart Balance ( little) over brown rice - Mmmmm - you sound well and great spirits ! Been spring cleaning that mental junk out - Peeling Garlic - great idea - too cute that Mom ! emoticon Karen

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L*I*T*A* 3/24/2014 12:05PM

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2WHEELER 3/24/2014 11:27AM

    I don't know where to begin, but suffice to say this is a fantastic blog. I can hear your joy in the blog. April emoticon I'm rolling out the emoticon whether there is a foot of snow or emoticon !

Congratulations on being so close to goal. You've done a remarkable job--will I recognize you the next time we meet? Oh, yeah, you'll be the skinny guy singing and bouncing along wearing spandex. I won't be able to miss you.

I'll have to get busy and read Willie Weir. I read so many cycling blogs it is hard to keep up with them all.

Brussel sprouts--did you roast them with a touch of olive oil (& garlic)? That completely changes their flavor. They, along with kale, have become my favorite vegetables. I don't like roasted kale (it's the new "in" thing), but I love fresh kale salads--much more flavor than any lettuce.

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SLAYINGDRAGONS 3/24/2014 11:09AM

    That was great! Smiiiillliiinnnnggg! emoticon
Our oldest son loves to do asparagus on the grill with olive oil; I like mine steamed with a tad of salt. Yum. Makes my mouth water. BUT be prepared for the smelly urination later - just a part of the process!

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ROMANTILLY 3/24/2014 11:04AM

    Thanks for the post Don. You always get me in a great mood and help me get my encouragement back when feeling a bit down or low. I love to read your success stories.

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HIPPICHICK1 3/24/2014 9:42AM

    You had me at "cauliflower, barley, celery, onions and garlic combo."
I have to try that!!
I'm with you on the Brussels sprouts express to YUCK and I still hate asparagus, but my hubby loves it so I buy it for him and roast them in a touch of grape seed oil (a good oil for high heating) and a little salt. He likes them that way very much. Roast aT 400 DEGREES f FOR 12 MINS. Oops. Caps lock!
Afterwards you can toss them with a little olive oil, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce, or leave them plain. Apparently either way the asparagus is really yummy...to him!
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KANOE10 3/24/2014 9:41AM

    You are on a happy roll! It is such fun to clean out your closet of old large clothes. It shows a commitment to not regaining that weight. How nice to find that club biking shirt. I had the same thing..I was given a staff shirt and did not want to ask for a larger size!

Your soup sounds yummy. I am a big asparagus fan as well.

Happy Spring! You are doing great!

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VALERIEMAHA 3/24/2014 9:12AM

    You are CARRYING THE TORCH -- and leaving me speechless! (*Except* yes, Ellen's advice on roasting the asparagus is perfect -- snap off the bottom, I use a little balsamic with the EVOO. And yes, the young ones are delicious raw too!)

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SLIMMERJESSE 3/24/2014 8:45AM

    How fabulous!

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WATERMELLEN 3/24/2014 8:29AM

    What an exuberant and joyous blog: you are rolling this!! Love to think of you able to wear your bike club shirt -- and discovering clothes that fit again while ditching all the clothes that are too big (that was key for me, but it took me about 5 years to get rid of all the biggies!!).

Soup sounds terrific. I made my fave go to chicken minestrone, had a parmesan rind to simmer along with the veggies.

Snuck a few sliced Brussels sprouts and kale blossoms into the soup -- asparagus and B sprouts are both great roasted with a bit of EVOO at 400, but the asparagus (snap off the woody stems) take much less time.

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FERRETLOVER1 3/24/2014 7:39AM

    What an awesome feeling it is to be able to wear clothes you thought you would never fit into again in this life! You are one emoticon due, Don! I am so happy for you that I am doing a little dance right here in my kitchen! emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/24/2014 6:59AM

    emoticon Shopping the closet! LOVE it... the price is right, and usually, if you kept it, it was because of good memories!

Love that you sound so HAPPY! emoticon Spring is almost here... cycling season ahead!

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    I watched that video, Don. Neat! They do sell garlic peelers at the stores. Try Bed, Bath and Beyond. I think they run about $4. I put a clove of garlic in my green juice I make daily. Since I only use 1 clove I peel it by hand no big deal.

Glad you are doing so darn well! Yea you! So many wins. Glad your quads are feeling better. Your going to nail the 5K.

Now, if you want a REAL challenge: check out the Race to Robie Creek here in Boise, Idaho. That's a true challenge. I walked it one year and vow to do it again. Perhaps next year. All on raw food, green juice and fruit. BTW: I love asparagus and I do eat it raw. Organic of course!

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123ELAINE456 3/24/2014 12:32AM

  Awesome Blog!!! Well Said!!! You are doing Great. Tried to get link. This is what I got. This Page Cannot Be Displayed. Sorry. Keep It Up. God Blessings Always. Take Care. Have a Wonderful Week.

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JULIEABIGAIL 3/23/2014 11:47PM

  OMG, don! what an energized, uplifting blog! your enthusiasm is infectious! thank you for sharing! congrats on all your joyous achievements of the day. sweetie, yikes! i would not recommend your eating asparagus raw! i would either roast it with a tad of evoo, salt (substitute), pepper, and perhaps a wee bit of garlic (also great if you roast cherry tomatoes with them), OR parboil them (timing depends on size and freshness of the stalks). of course, snap off the tough ends of each stalk first (some people use a peeler to peel the tougher parts of the stalk). either of these simple methods will give you a good idea of the actual flavor of the asparagus (i love it!). and remember, for many people, it is apparent pretty quickly in the urine that one has partaken of asparagus, so fear not! emoticon

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Quiet Leadership

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Another member inspired my blog for today when she pondered the fact that others considered her to be a "leader" but she wasn't so comfortable thinking of herself in that way...it didn't seem to "fit" her perception of herself. Here were the thoughts I shared, plus a little "bonus"...

"Leader" is one of those tricky words isn't it? Often we can think of a leader as a General Patton taking the bull by the horns and barking out orders.

But I prefer to think of a leader as a person of influence. And when we think of it that way we begin to realize how much impact our behavior has on those around us.

For example when I began to make healthier food choices I realized to resist the tempting treats and snacks that my colleagues were always bringing to work I was going to have to bring lots of fresh veggies and fruits to slice up into a big bowl for healthy gnoshing through the afternoon. My office partner used to have a candy dish on his desk that used to be a big hit.

But day in and day out I quietly went about preparing my freggie bowl and invite folks to feel free to help themselves. I didn't take to the bully pulpit, pick up the megaphone, wag my finger or prosetylize...at least not TOO vigorously...lol!

And yanno? Over time the decadent snacks and treats brought to the lunchroom trailed off into increasingly rare occurrences, even bringing about a finger-wagging from others: "Why did you bring in that CONTRABAND?!?"

And whereas contraband used to vaporize into mouths within minutes in the past, it now sits for hours and sometimes ends up being tossed into the trash (Where it belongs...lol!).

Some of us now get out for power walks at lunch now. More folks are off to their fitness centers after work.

In my own quiet way I see myself as having been a potent influence on this process and feel justified in considering myself a "leader," NOT of the General Patton variety!

I think ALL of us have this power to influence those around us in extremely potent ways! We ALL can be leaders, whether in our homes or beyond!

So many of us know and are so fond of Gandhi's words: "Be the change you want to see in the world." My play with this is to say: "Be the SPARK you want to see in the world!

I enjoyed a lovely 4+ mile walk after an early dinner tonight and was able to take advantage of the lengthening days. I made sure to pick a route with some nice uphill challenges PLUS had a super conversation with my youngest sister while walking part of the way. After finishing the conversation it was time for TUNES and one of my faves came up.

I DARE you to NOT clap your hands, swing your hips and sing along with this like I was doing during my walk... :-)


Near the end of the walk the sun was setting and playing off the clouds in a striking way when my music took a turn for thoughtful, pensive mood which was a perfect fit for this sunset and wrapping up my walk:


Thank you everyone for all your blog support these days! I'm humbled and doing my best to soak up your praise and compliments...like many of you this does not come easily but I've resolved to strengthen my abilities to be kind to myself and to truly take in deserved recognition.

Take care and keep it SPARKIN'!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TINAJANE76 3/24/2014 3:37PM

    Quiet leadership can often be the best kind because it's the type that other people can learn from by example. Leadership doesn't have to be dictatorial and it doesn't mean that you have all of the answers. It just means you have the ability to help bring out the best in others.

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SAM60SUMTHINK 3/21/2014 8:22PM

    Excellent. As always! Your description is abslutely on-targe! Alleged 'leaders' who go by the name do not always so well grasp the reality of truly leading.

As always, your blog links sent me cybering along into a musical journey of sites and sonds! Thank you for this evening's voyage of discovery!

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CHANGE4FIT 3/20/2014 12:57PM

    Thoughtful and well spoken as always. Yes there are those with the title, but it pays to pay attention to the real leaders in every situation....

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CELIAMINER 3/19/2014 8:13AM

    I like your description of leadership. I, too, don't consider myself a leader, and it took all the willpower I could muster to break my sugar habit, especially when the person in the cubby next to mine kept a huge bowl of candy in a prominent place. Later, as I lost the weight, I didn't take the initiative and talk about it. Only when someone asked would I mention SP, eating better, and exercising more. However, like you, I am noticing more people in my office taking walks and eating healthier. Even the holiday party, which used to be a contest for the sweetest, most fattening foods, now boasts more freggie platters and lean meats. So maybe I can think of myself as a leader by example.

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WATERMELLEN 3/19/2014 7:58AM

    You. Are. A. Leader.

No question about your leadership here. (I continue to notice the quiet way you welcome new members: just one example of many). And clearly in the workplace as well.

What a great walk that has to have been!!

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RAINBOWFALLS 3/18/2014 10:53AM

    You do have a way with words and you are a very good leader. Take care and keep on Sparking!

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HIPPICHICK1 3/17/2014 2:36PM

    Leadership comes in all different forms. Silent and stealthy is the best!
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VALERIEMAHA 3/17/2014 11:30AM

    I see you're just coming into the interior recognition of a part of you that has loomed large for me ever since we've become friends, Don. The way you move through the world with grace and beauty is a special part of who you are and what you offer to family, friends, and even strangers. You lead by being you, with that spirit of service always there, with that lively, loving way of connecting with others, with that special way of expressing aliveness that translates to ways that we can see potential in ourselves.

Thank you for who you are and all you do.

Comment edited on: 3/17/2014 11:32:38 AM

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L*I*T*A* 3/16/2014 12:42PM

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ZELLAZM 3/16/2014 9:29AM


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KANOE10 3/16/2014 8:02AM

    I love that" Be the change you want to see in the world. " Yes, be the Spark you want to see in the world also works. You can be a quiet leader and influence people by your choices and actions. In my job I am the only one who consistently eats fruits and veges and does not indulge in the staff treats. People are always commenting on my lunches which consist of salads with roasted vegetables or exotic stir frys. Much as I get tired of telling people what I am eating, I suspect they want to know because I have kept my weight off.

I am pleased your office has responded and has made healthy changes!

You are an excellent influence on all of us!

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123ELAINE456 3/16/2014 1:02AM

  Awesome Blog!!! You are doing Great Job on Leadership in your Office. Keep It Up!!! Love your views on Leadership too. God Blessings Always. Take Care!!!

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PATRICIAAK 3/16/2014 12:03AM

    Another 'like' blog. This is so on target. Thanks

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STRIVERONE 3/15/2014 10:44PM

    The greatest leaders are those who lead by example. There are many who do just that in the Spark universe, but I can vouch for your real contribution here in real world Broome County. You certainly do deserve the recognition. Bask.

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GROEDER 3/15/2014 9:32PM

    Great blog, Don!!!
When I have been called a "leader" it only strengthens my resolve to do an even better job of making myself better, so I can show others that it really can be done.
I see you as a partner on this journey. Always there with support and encouragement when I need it. Thank you very much for all you do.

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/15/2014 9:26PM

    You are so right about the nature of leadership... it starts with following an idea: to make healthier choices. All it takes is ONE person committed to it, to have others who'd just been wishing someone would... lurking in the shadows, lamenting that the culture was just too ingrained to change. By providing for your own success, quietly, you inspired others and changed your work culture!

You might not have set OUT to become a leader, but by following your principles, and keeping your promises to yourself... you BECAME one. Embrace it. Cherish it. You rock! emoticon

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LOLA_LALA 3/15/2014 9:20PM

    Magnificent, very wisdom-packed blog, Don! emoticon I think some of us are more inclined to be followers than leaders, and we do so happily (and as part of our nature). But when push comes to shove, we must all really lead ourselves in the end, mustn't we? It's taking responsibility for the self, and ultimately, it helps the rest of the world in ways indirect and direct as well :)

LOVELY photo!!

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SLIMMERJESSE 3/15/2014 9:14PM

    Glad you reminded me that it doesn't come easily because you DO make it look effortless, Don. I admire that.

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_LINDA 3/15/2014 9:06PM

    Good on you!! Way to convert your office staff!
Thank you for sharing your wonderful music and walk!
Spark on!

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1CRAZYDOG 3/15/2014 9:02PM

    THINFITRAWKIND summed it up best for me. We don't choose leadership, but it chooses us!

I so agree with your quiet leadership . . . leading by example. . . and words. It is humbling to realize that with our actions and words we can influence anothers choice!

Good job you've done.

Have a wonderful St. Patrick's Day.

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    Leadership isn't something that one chooses. IT chooses you.

I was talking to a friend of mine today. She gave me a very interesting compliment. She stated that I am a "way shower". Someone who forages ahead of others. I guess to make certain there aren't any land mines? LOL

You are in a very good space Don. Truly a very kind person and one that looks upon others with love in your heart. Thank you!

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JULIEABIGAIL 3/15/2014 8:08PM

  don, thank you again for a thoughtful, uplifting, insightful blog. i think "leadership" can be interpreted much like "power," which can have a connotation of "power over" or "domination," or can be the power of "empowerment," which i find far more effective and long-lasting. "leadership" can also have a connotation of being a dominant force, or, these days, thankfully, it can be seen in more of a "facilitator" role, encouraging, reinforcing, supporting positive ideas and feedback. "leadership" no longer has to be hierarchical, and it can be kind, humble, and tacit. you lead by example, and who would NOT want to emulate you! emoticon

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Another First! Thanks & Shout Out to Our SparkFamily!

Friday, March 14, 2014

Thank you everyone for all of your TREMENDOUS support which pushed one of my recent blogs ("A Change in Perspective: Preparing for Maintenance") toward achieving my very first Popular Blog Post award!

It's not only a super day for this reason alone, but have notched down in another couple of ways that have me psyched as well: 1) I've crossed another big number by dropping below 220, which would be 100 pounds below where I started when joining SparkPeople in 2007 and 2) This led me to pulling out a "Large" shirt which I tried on only a few weeks ago and had barely buttoned around my belly yet already fits comfortably today...YES! Soon to kiss all the XLs goodbye and pass on to the Thrift Store!

While I'm lovin' it, I can't help but do a little head-scratching as over the past few weeks the pounds have NOT been flying. It's been a patience game for myself seeing the numbers drib, drab, zig up, zag down and just reminding myself to stay the course: ounce by ounce those pounds are gonna go!

PLUS not only have the pounds been slowing way down but with all this cardiac stuff going on my workouts have been more sparsely populated and less vigorous.

Since being unable to drive last week I have yet to get to the fitness center and relegated myself to mostly walking, jogging...yet look at these rewards I'm reaping! Go me! :-)

Such a wonderful note on which to kick off my weekend!

Thank you again everyone!

Viva la SPARK!


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MCCOURTT 3/17/2014 1:41PM

    Congrad - All the way around!!! On the Blog, but more important on what you've done emoticon

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HAPPY-DESTINY 3/16/2014 11:25AM

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KANOE10 3/15/2014 9:45AM

    I am glad you had a popular blog. Your words are inspirational and should be read by everyone! Even though you are healing, you are still losing and are staying focused. Great job on the 100 pound loss. That is magnificent,

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SAM60SUMTHINK 3/14/2014 10:14PM

    Awesome and well-deserved 'popular blog' award!
You've come a long way!!
And ALL your blogs are so full of ideas, music and inspiration!

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WATERMELLEN 3/14/2014 10:00PM

    Delighted to get that popular blog motivation: although all your blogs are popular with me! Congrats on the weight loss: those pounds have no choice but to disappear because you are sticking with the program. And: I see you've put in over 500 exercise minutes already this month, before the halfway mark. On a roll, fully committed to your heart recovery and ongoing health!!

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1CRAZYDOG 3/14/2014 8:47PM

    Awesome!!!!!! Congratulations.

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L*I*T*A* 3/14/2014 7:56PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/14/2014 7:41PM

    emoticon emoticon Slow and steady, even with little zigs and zags... and over time... LOOK AT YOU! emoticon emoticon

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PATRICIAAK 3/14/2014 7:29PM

    Congrats to an inspiring guy.
Reading your blogs gives me hope.

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TINAJANE76 3/14/2014 4:15PM

    Awesome, Don--I'm so happy for you! Enjoy the attention, your Large shirts and have a great weekend!

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_LINDA 3/14/2014 1:06PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon
I too, couldn't believe you hadn't had a popular blog post until now!
Great news on the smaller size!! Weight never comes off in a straight line and its amazing you lost some with all your restrictions right now!
So keep it going, you are obviously doing something that is working for you!
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MAESTROSHASHA 3/14/2014 11:44AM

    All this accomplishment and it includes a blog post award AND a dropped clothing sizes?!?! Now that's cause for CELEBRATION! Way to go! :)

Comment edited on: 3/14/2014 11:45:12 AM

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DAISYBELL6 3/14/2014 11:38AM

    Way to go Don! I think all your posts should be Popular blog posts!

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123ELAINE456 3/14/2014 11:31AM

  Awesome Blog!!! Well Said!!! Well Done!!! You are doing Great. Keep It Up!!! You Can Do It!!! WTG!!! God Blessings Always. Have a Wonderful Weekend!!!

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CHANGE4FIT 3/14/2014 11:30AM

    Yay you! So glad you have had a remarkable "reboot" in so many ways. Keep on Sparkin',

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BEATLETOT 3/14/2014 11:05AM

    What the...? Your first Popular Blog? No way!!! Congratulations on everything!

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VALERIEMAHA 3/14/2014 10:31AM

    I can't believe this is just your FIRST Popular Blog Post award??? But anyway, HIP HIP HOORAY!

Just reading your ROCKIN' blog amped up my day several notches. Thanks for modeling how it's done, my friend, as you simply jump over all the obstacles and continue your journey-of-a-lifetime, to optimal wellbeing and contentment!

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ALIIDA 3/14/2014 10:21AM

    Great feeling, that, throwing out the large shirts. Well done! Very happy to hear how well you are doing. emoticon

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    emoticon emoticon

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WENWIN 3/14/2014 9:53AM

    Don...there is nothing tougher than just staying the course during the ups and downs. Congrats on all your accomplishments!!

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PEZMOM1 3/14/2014 9:44AM

    emoticon emoticon

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HIPPICHICK1 3/14/2014 9:20AM

    Perhaps you weren't eating enough? Or working out too much? Maybe? Regardless, congrats on ALL of your recent successes!!
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SLIMMERJESSE 3/14/2014 9:01AM

    So glad you're doing great.

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ANDREWMOM 3/14/2014 8:56AM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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First Day of Spring!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Who cares what the calendar sez? Who cares that we're gonna get DUMPED on with another half foot of snow tomorrow?

Today was truly the first day of spring! 50+ degrees and sunshine / blue skies EVERYWHERE! A nice, teensy NSV was to decide instead of pulling my long-sleeved t-shirt down over my jeans I was going to tuck it in! I have forever pulled my shirts down, figuring somehow it hid the fat better? Silly me...! But hey, as I trim I figure I have less and less reason to be self-conscious. Tuck 'er in! :-)

I had a couple hours to myself this afternoon and knew the area I was going to be in so had some ideas before setting out on foot where I wanted to go: UP Reynolds Rd., Johnson City at least as far as the high school. I knew there would be a good, stiff uphill grade to get me pumped and running! Plus I figured the view up there would be worth the climb!

See that awesome sky?!? The hillside?!? I couldn't take in enough of it! I realized the high school was only partially up the hill and was drawn to the challenge of continuing up Reynolds Rd. to the top. When I hit the Indian Village complex I thought it looked like I was near the top so I thought 'enough of this pokey walking, why not jog to the top?'

Silly me...had been a while since I'd traveled this road...! But for some reason it felt better to shift into a jogging gait rather than walking up this hill so I held to my jog all the way up to Deyo Hill Rd. and then enjoyed a leisurely saunter back down past the high school. There was a sign for Finch Hollow Nature Center and I realized for all that I celebrate the outdoors in the 30+ years I have lived in the area I had never gone to this Nature Center. I'm overdue!

Off I went to search for Finch Hollow. Here is the route I traveled today:


Up Oakdale Road I went. I knew by the map that the Nature Center was just north of the Oakdale Mall. So I walked, walked and walked to no avail. Never saw any indication of Finch Hollow anywhere! Finally I saw signs I was leaving the village of Johnson City and figured, enough's enough...gave up and turned around re-tracing my steps back down Oakdale. After a little re-tracing I spied a yellow pipe gate padlocked shut. No sign, no nothing. But I figured it must have been the place. Highly underwhelming. Ah well. Now I knew.

So back I went taking Oakdale to Harry L and to my car. Very weary down the home stretch, having taken in 6 miles...but it was the very best sort of weary!

Now I'm ready: bring on that snow! I'll tap into my reserves of sunshine to blast my way through!


ps...hope it works, as minus the use of one arm due to limited range of motion as my pacemaker heals, snow-shoveling is going to be a challenge! :-)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SASSYCHRIS1952 3/12/2014 8:14PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

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_MOBII_ 3/12/2014 7:01PM

    Great picture!

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COMMIT2BFIT4ME 3/12/2014 2:35PM

    Nice blog. What a wonderful way to take advantage of a nice spring day to walk and explore this glorious world. I take advantage of free admission day once a month to walk at our local botanical gardens. It's nice to get new scenery. I am glad you feeling better.
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Feeling a little jealous that I don't have nice hills to climb in my hood. Although..I bet I could find one close..thanks for the inspiration! emoticon

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L*I*T*A* 3/12/2014 11:50AM

    love bright sunny days too........
does elevate our moods....

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OUATEONE2 3/12/2014 10:20AM

    Great blog and as someone else stated, it felt like we were there with you. I feel guilty for wishing the showers would go away when it is 68 in my neck of the woods right now. Have a great day and stay away from that snow!

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HIPPICHICK1 3/12/2014 9:57AM

    That is QUITE the walk. How disappointing that the nature centre was closed. I live 4 km from a nature centre and we go there as often as possible to support it so it stays opened.
Glad to hear you enjoyed the day to the fullest!

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WATERMELLEN 3/12/2014 8:43AM

    Love the selfie, love the blue skies, love that you're feeling better and full or optimism and exuberance. But please: take it easy on the snow shovelling while you heal!! (We've got lots more forecast for today too).

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RAINBOWFALLS 3/12/2014 8:41AM

    Hopefully we will not see much snow and the weather is heading right back up so it will melt quickly. I walked yesterday and have to agree that the blue sky was gorgeous.

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BILLB000 3/12/2014 7:27AM

    Allowing the sunshine to help you thru the next few days makes so much sense. You bring up so many positives in your blog that one feels inspired.
Thanks for the blog.

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FERRETLOVER1 3/12/2014 7:09AM

    I love that you took advantage of the great weather! I love your positivity! I am just so beaten down by all this snow and freezing cold weather - it's really doing a number on my attitude - so thank you very much for reminding me to enjoy the moment!

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    I think you should forego the snow shoveling Don. Hire someone to do it while you heal.

You went for a fabulous walk/run and I'm amazed you can do this already.

Do you feel any different with the pace maker? What shoes are you wearing when you do your trek?

What is your average for steps/miles per day?

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123ELAINE456 3/12/2014 1:10AM

  Awesome Blog!!! I'm glad that you had a Wonderful time out on such a Beautiful Day as you had where you lived. Be careful and don't overdue it with your arm though. God Blessings Always. Have a Wonderful Week. Take Care.

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PATRICIAAK 3/11/2014 11:18PM

    I felt like I was walking with you.

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SAM60SUMTHINK 3/11/2014 10:58PM

    Funny how we go here, there and everywhere EXCEPT to explore the very things that tourists visit when they come to our areas! Glad you did your 6-mile walk/jog. Fantastic walk on a glorious day!! And!!
You tucked in the shirt!!

So the question must be: what other local haunts await your exploration in the coming weeks (after you figure out what to do with the snow..)? Maybe some indoor historic site that you pass by without noticing?

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SAMMYSWEETPEA 3/11/2014 10:46PM

    Isn't it incredible how much energy we have on bright, sunny days? Glad you enjoyed it while you've got it. I think there's more winter in store for some of us.

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LOLA_LALA 3/11/2014 10:42PM

    DON! How exuberantly you're springin' right into spring! emoticon I'll have to go check out your route once I'm done gabbing here. You look like the picture of great health! And all...that...GROUND you covered - wow! Flat on my can just trying to wrap my noggin around that kind o' mileage :)

Our weather down here in northern VA is a wee tad warmer than yours, but with the same pattern - a nosedive in the temperature on Thursday, with possibly even some weird "stuff" like a tornado warning or two (!). March is a capricious month here, weather-wise, but we usually have a good deal less snow than you do. I'm concerned about the prospect of you shoveling snow right now (yeah, I know I must sound like a nagging sister! :) I worry about that healing tissue around the pacemaker... You be careful, and listen, hire a neighborhood kid to do that shoveling if need be. No reason for you to risk all the gains you've made. "Gains" - did I say "gains"? Congratulations on your LOSS - that golden moment when we can tuck a shirt in and feel just fine about it - bravo!! emoticon

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STRIVERONE 3/11/2014 10:37PM

    I had to enjoy the best day in recent memory for an outdoor stroll vicariously through your blog. We spent it traveling to Middletown so Judith could be tortured by a periodontist.

I'd do the bare minimum with that snow. It's going to melt anyway.

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1CRAZYDOG 3/11/2014 10:17PM

    OH boy, hope that you don't get dumped on! The weather is so weird! Glad you got out. Take care of YOU!

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HAPPY-DESTINY 3/11/2014 10:17PM

    Oh my! I drove the same route you ran! I was there Saturday !

We are so close to each other . . we need to meet up sometime! I am NOT a runner though nor a jogger! I do have my bike though! emoticon

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/11/2014 10:15PM

    Memories! Thanks for them!

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Breathing In & Breathing Out...

Saturday, March 08, 2014

Sending a big shout out of appreciation and thanks to everyone for your support on my last blog! Took you all "with" me on my latest medical journey which went very smoothly.

The ablation was completed Thursday, bumping my HR back up to 55-60, however due to my heart still dropping beats it was going to be pacemaker time after all. I was relieved as I figured I'd only likely have to return within the near future to have it done. One twofer special coming right up!

So Friday they wheeled me in for the amazingly quick procedure! Like rolling into an auto shop with all the spare parts lined up along the wall 15-20 mins and back in my room floating on a Fentanyl fog. I got a Medtronic dual chamber MRI compatible pacemaker and then it was off to la-la land...

The intersection of medicine & technology is an amazing thing to behold. I feel a little bit like RoboCop or Ironman, lol. It's one thing to hear about it but quite another to being the recipient of such wizardry!

I was in a limbo room at hospital probably for insurance reasons plus there were no empty beds and the place was filled to gills. So this meant little privacy, curtains for walls and no place to shower. Sink scrubbing time! I am drawing a hot soak in the tub immediately after posting this blog! :-)

One very smart thing I did was to download a most delightful book "Spokesongs" by Willie Weir:


Reading his humorous, insightful encounters while traveling through amazing places such as India and South Africa on his bicycle really took me away from the hospital so delightfully! I highly recommend him to anyone into cycling and humanity. He has such a way about him! I can relate to some of his style, sorta feels like me, except he is WAY more bold and willing to outside his comfort zone than I ever have been, with SUCH rewards! I'm so envious!

I'll be following up with the arrhythmia center to get hooked up with a box that will "beam me up Scottie" and wirelessly transmit info on my pacemaker functioning to the manufacturer while I sleep to be sure everything's running okay.

Still not hearing what the deal is regarding anti-coagulants and the possibility of discontinuing them later.

One little surprise I found out almost as I was leaving I was informed that I was not to drive for TWO WEEKS! That dropped my jaw! That'll mean no work or private practice. I've got boatloads of time to take, but hate the thought of leaving colleagues in the lurch for so long. Going to see if I can have this "amended"...

I had been spoken to by nobody all day long on Friday after having the pacemaker put in first thing in the morning. Finally I pinned down a nurse who, while she didn't have the answers re: my concerns about lifestyle changes, precautions, etc. living with a pacemaker, she did give me a helpful booklet but what was SO cool was that she introduced me to another hospital employee whom my doctor spotted as having the same problem as I have w/ atrial flutter & he did her pacemaker too. She's been using it for ten years with one replacement which she said wasn't a big deal.

So temporarily I have to be careful about lifting, pushing, pulling with my left arm while the tissue around the pacemaker heals to properly "hold" it in place. After that? Not really too much to worry about: avoid being scanned @ airports and other electronic scanners. Microwaves are no problem. My pacemaker is MRI compatible should I ever need one. I have to be careful to avoid any sudden impact around the pacemaker which is below my left clavicle and if anything DOES impact it to seek help.

This gal was clearly full of energy and buzzing 'round the hospital doing her thing...very friendly and supportive.

So upon getting home on a sorta sunny, mid-40 degree day whatza guy to do? Get those stir-crazy legs out walking and soaking up the outdoors which I'd been walled off from for the past few days! :-)

Although the song "The Waters Of March" didn't pop up on my music while walking, I couldn't help but think of it as an antedote to all the information overload I've been experiencing. Love the lyrics which seem to say "look around you, take in your world, breathe in, breathe out, celebrate life and living!"

A stick, a stone, it's the end of the road
It's the rest of a stump, it's a little alone
It's a sliver of glass, it is life, it's the sun
It is night, it is death, it's a trap, it's a gun

The oak when it blooms, a fox in the brush
The knot in the wood, the song of a thrush
The will of the wind, a cliff, a fall
A scratch, a lump, it is nothing at all

It's the wind blowing free, it's the end of the slope
It's a beam, it's a void, it's a hunch, it's a hope
And the river bank talks of the waters of March
It's the end of the strain, it's the joy in your heart

And although the song, written by maestro Antonio Carlos Jobim is wonderful to hear it performed by himself and so many others, I'll share again my favorite version in honor and memory of the great Oscar Castro-Neves who sadly passed away last year:


Now this Stevie Wonder song DID pop up while walking and gives me a very similar lift:


as did this one too:


and fittingly near the end of my 2.5 mile walk came this song reminding me to let everything go and just take in the world and BREATHE:


I'll close with a rare thing: a selfie...just don't DO selfies! But here are a few from the bridge on my walk...

And here's a cock-eyed pic with the fishing access behind me from where our local bike club has met and launched many a glorious ride!

The saga will continue, but for right now I'm checking out. I have a long hot soak in the tub waiting for me! :-)


ps...here's a great pic of a number of our bike club members used in conjunction with some great local news!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CELIAMINER 3/13/2014 1:50PM

    Wow, I haven't been keeping up, so I had no idea you were having ablation performed! Glad it went well, and thanks for the flowers goodie!

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ALIIDA 3/10/2014 10:40AM

    Hubby has been asking about you. (He had an ablation on Valentine's Day and a stent placed ten days ago.) I'm so happy I can report how well you're doing. emoticon emoticon

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GR8CATSBY 3/9/2014 8:09PM

    Welcome home! Glad things went smoothly!!!

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CHANGE4FIT 3/9/2014 6:58PM

    Glad this adventure is done! Hoping all continues on a positive path and "the beat goes on".

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_MOBII_ 3/9/2014 6:17PM

    I am so happy you are all better! And if you have to be a super hero, Ironman is the way to go!

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DAISYBELL6 3/9/2014 2:06PM

    I'm so glad your procedures went well and that they are over for now.


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DOUGDC 3/9/2014 2:03PM

    Glad to hear things are going well and that you are comfortable. An example where current day medicine is working well! Best always.

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L*I*T*A* 3/9/2014 1:10PM

    listen to your drs about the 2 weeks off!!!

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HIPPICHICK1 3/9/2014 12:40PM

    Glad you are all put back together and functioning! Walk on Don, walk on.
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OUATEONE2 3/9/2014 12:11PM

    emoticon best wishes for your quick recovery and return to normal activities.

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ZELLAZM 3/9/2014 8:50AM

    I'm so happy everything went well for you, Don! How great that you got to talk to someone who could give you a firsthand testimonial about your new hardware! And thanks for the playlist suggestions. I will think of/pray for you when I listen to these!

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KANOE10 3/9/2014 8:27AM

    I am so glad your surgery went well. You have bounced back and are walking and listening to great music. I am very happy for you.


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RAINBOWFALLS 3/9/2014 8:12AM

    I am so glad to hear that you are out and about already. Be careful and let yourself heal. Take care

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    Wow, Don, you got the job done! No biggie on getting a pacemaker in anymore is there? Of course I still wouldn't want to do it myself. Luckily my ticker is still ticking fine and probably will be until I succumb to too much fun with a cabana boy. LOL

Glad you are up and about and already exercising! Wow! I think I would have gone in for some sympathy hugs from friends first. So here's yours: emoticon

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    I'm an EMT and I see a lot of patients with A-fib. I bet you're going to feel like a million bucks once you're all healed up! emoticon

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_LINDA 3/8/2014 11:44PM

    So glad this is behind you and now you must heal -do be careful and don't push it. If you can't drive for two weeks you can't! Better safe than sorry!
That is so awesome you could get out for a walk! Being able to get in a hot tub right away? Big bonus! Enjoy!
Here is to fast healing!

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123ELAINE456 3/8/2014 10:49PM

  Awesome Blog!!! Well Said. So glad that things went well for you and that you are on the road to compete recovery. God Blessings Always. Have a Wonderful Week. Take Care.

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SAM60SUMTHINK 3/8/2014 10:39PM

    Wonderful! emoticon
Ok, you've not been gone long, but ... you are back!! And as good as new!
Glad you got all done in one trip, rather than all that back and forth to doctors and waiting etc etc. then readmission.

The new boxes that serve as communication center between the pacemakers and doctors/technicals are incredible; real 'beam me up, Scottie' creations. I've seen my Dad link up to the techs; they read his numbers from down in Albany or somewhere. Amazing.

The 'forced' time off will give you time to adjust, enjoy just how much better you feel with that helpful gizmo!

Thanks for sharing the links; how I enjoy your musical selections!

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LOLA_LALA 3/8/2014 10:08PM

    ...and he's BA-A-ACK!! emoticon home, Don! Wow...leave it to you to get fully outfitted with a pacemaker...and out taking a walk and sending us this glorious playlist of solid-gold goodies to enjoy! Many thanks! You look absolutely terrific, too - fit as the proverbial fiddle, just as if you and that amazing Willie Weir were actually brothers separated at birth. Glad you're up, out, and at 'em so soon and thriving! Ah, the Stevie Wonder song, "Ngiculela" - his Spanish is honey to the ears, it flows so beautifully! I played that particular album (well, they *were* albums back in the day! emoticon ) 'til it was practically transparent. The last selection was new to me, but what a honeyed voice she has. You have an appreciation for all the bestest out there emoticon

I got a kick out of your "auto parts" description of Pacemaker General Motors and was rather amazed to learn your new "machine" is safe for MRIs. I don't believe my brother's was - at least not in the beginning. His latest "installment" may be. The first pacemakers - way back in the sixties! - were the size of cigarette packs. How they've miniaturized these wonderful devices!

You know what's great about The Waters of March? The English lyrics you posted are as wonderfully lyrical as they are in both Portuguese and French! Masterful translations!

Well, "beamed-up Scottie," we sure are delighted to read this blog entry of yours! All the best as you continue to heal. I bet you'll be back at work before you can say...Ngiculela! emoticon

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WATERMELLEN 3/8/2014 9:29PM

    The joy in your heart, the joy in all of our hearts that you're OK -- look at you out walking and listening to music, taking it all in stride so to speak. Absolutely wonderful!!

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SLIMMERJESSE 3/8/2014 9:00PM

    So glad things worked out well for you, Don. Take care.

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PATRICIAAK 3/8/2014 8:56PM

    welcome to the 'bionic man' world.
glad everything went well.

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1CRAZYDOG 3/8/2014 8:54PM

    Well done. Glad that part of the journey is over for you.

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ONEKIDSMOM 3/8/2014 8:52PM

    Glad that things went smoothly. Now rest and recuperate during that two weeks of "no driving". So great that you were able to go out and walk in the sunshine so soon after, too. And a hot soak in the tub after the walk? Perfect end to your day. Rest well... you won't have too much worry over Springing forward overnight!

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STRIVERONE 3/8/2014 8:36PM

    Well Don, you've crossed that bridge, so to speak. Now you can grab the rest of 2014 and never look back.

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