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A (brief) update

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Whew--this year has been crazy so far! First off, I am still alive and well and here, just not online with SP a lot.

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Since I last blogged (was it really that long ago? Oops!), I have spent a lot of time on job hunting, trying to get our new dog settled in, and figure out where I want to go from here. Who would have thought that could take as much time as it did?!

It took from October to February, but I'm officially back in the working world. It wasn't thanks to my fabulous job hunting skills (ha! no bites for 3+ months!) but rather a "chance" conversation with a friend who was working for a mattress retailer and loving it. I put in my application and included her name, and I'm quite sure it was her reference that got me my first interview (the hardest one to get). That led to a second interview and getting hired in spite of my minimal sales experience, and then four weeks of grueling training. No joke--7+ hours a day of training, daily quizzes, a midterm that culled a quarter of the class, and a final that took a good two and a half plus hours. A group of us got in the habit of meeting an hour or two before class to study together, so life was pretty much devoted to training those four weeks. It was a long afternoon waiting for the call to find out if I passed, but I got the happy news finally Monday night. I start in a store tomorrow with a couple of weeks of supervised work, then we will have grad day and be fully on the floor.

The new dog has taken up a lot of time, too. Stryker is 110 lbs. of energy; he is about a year old, so he is very much a puppy. He is a rescue dog and suffers from isolation anxiety, which means he gets very destructive if he is left alone. Makes getting anything done at home very challenging; we have had to get an extra large crate and crate train him to have any hope of keeping him and the house safe. Great dog, though; once we get past this stage and get him more fully trained, I think he will be a good running partner.

With the focus on the job hunt/training and the dog, my running has been minimal. I'm really looking forward to getting out for a run outside in the sunshine(!) today and getting into a better routine. Starting work at 10 a.m. or later should make it relatively easy to get some running and working out in daily; we'll see if I can get that going again.

As far as weight goes, I put on about 8 pounds over the holidays but have been able to hold the line there. Now that things are starting to settle down, I'll be working on taking those off more seriously. It has been way too easy to resort to eating out a lot because of the schedule and being so tired at the end of the day. That's expensive in the long run--both to the bottom line and to my bottom.

There you go, a reasonably brief update on what's been going on. I hope to get a little more time on SP in the future to catch up with everyone; I've been logging on and doing a little almost every day here (just crossed the 100,000 SparkPoints line yesterday!), but not much. See ya!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOOZINITNOW 3/16/2014 8:39PM

    Good to hear from you! Congrats on the new job!

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TXPATRIOT 3/15/2014 12:38AM

    Congrats on the 100,000 Sparkpoints!!

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MEXGAL1 3/14/2014 3:41PM

    emoticon emoticon

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LISAINMS 3/13/2014 1:17PM

    Congrats on the new job! So much excitement in your life right now.
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MARILYNROBERT 3/12/2014 4:52PM

    emoticon on the new job, the new dog and crossing 100,000 Sparkpoints!

We have two Great Pyrenees rescues who weigh 110s and even though they are about 6 years old now, they play with each other like huge puppies and when they great me they wiggle like huge puppies. So funny.

Thank you for giving Striker a home. emoticon

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Four years of Sparking and some updates!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

This is way overdue in more ways than one--I can't believe my last blog was in September. There has been a lot that's changed in the last four months:

- i ran another half marathon.
- My job ended and I started looking for another.
- I went to Florida for a convention and squeezed in a visit to Walt Disney World and Epcot.
- The holidays, of course, with a visit from family and a ton of activity that goes along with those.
- Our dog passed away.
- We brought a new dog into the family (that's a blog all by itself!).
- The new year rolled around; how did it get to be 3014 already?!
- I was just offered a new job that I will start in a couple of weeks, doing something completely different.

Oh yes, and the main reason for this blog, my unofficial four-year Sparkversary just passed!

I joined SparkPeople officially in July 2009, but it wasn't until January 11, 2010, that I truly began using SparkPeople to help me lose weight. I know the exact day because that was when I committed to drinking at least 8 glasses of water a day (that's 1466 days ago--yes, I've somehow managed to get that in EVERY DAY since then!). At that time, I weighed 252 pounds and couldn't imagine ever losing the weight and keeping it off, but I decided to not worry about that and just start trying to do a little better with eating and activity.

What a crazy, wonderful, roller coaster journey it has been! While I haven't been on SP every day since then, I have been on at least briefly most of those days. SparkPeople helped me get a handle on what I was eating and how much; I began changing my eating habits, slowly but surely, by weighing, measuring, and tracking my food. I got a Bodybugg armband (and later switched to a BodyMedia Fit armband) to help me get motivated to Get. Off. The. Couch. I quickly discovered that without specific, planned activity, I took way less than half of the recommended 10,000 steps a day, so I began walking, working out at the gym, and eventually running. And I lost weight, slowly but surely. There were weeks where I didn't lose or even gained a little; it's rarely a straight line with weight loss. But overall, I kept losing.

In July 2012, I passed the 100 pounds lost mark, and I hit my initial goal--exceeded it, in fact. I was BEYOND thrilled! Now came the really scary part: maintenance.

Then in July 2013, I celebrated one year of keeping the weight off; that is something I never thought I could do.

So here we are, January 2014, four years of Sparking and 18 months of maintenance; where am I now? Well, obviously I am on SparkPeople less than I was when actively losing weight, but I'm still here, checking in for a few minutes most days, logging food most days. I gained about 7 or 8 pounds over the last three or four months, but those are slowly starting to come off again. I'm still using my BodyMedia armband, still running (though not nearly as much as I'd like!), and more committed than ever to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. At this stage, I'm not focused on the scale as much as on being healthy.

I turn 59 in just two days, and I am in better shape than I was 20 or 30 years ago. There are a few more wrinkles and grey hair (my hairdresser takes care of the latter, and I've discovered products that help with the former, too), but I can walk and run and do things today that I would never have attempted 10, 20, even 30 years ago. Today, I am an ACTIVE person; people who meet me now have no idea that I once weighed over 250 pounds. I've tackled 25 half marathons (that blows my mind when I think about it), three Ragnars, walked 60 miles in three days, and taken a chance on a new career as well as started a new business. None of that would have been possible without the things I have learned here.

Thank you, SparkPeople and Spark friends, for helping me go far beyond just losing weight to build a whole new life. It IS possible to reach your goals and more; do not give up and you will make it!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JUNESHOPE 2/5/2014 2:21AM

    emoticon You've done an awesome job. So sorry to hear of the loss of your dog. We lost our pet dog last year to, and I find myself still crying over him. It was so unexpected.

emoticon But glad you blessed another dog with a loving home. There are so many animals that need good homes. When ever I lose a pet, I honor their memory, by offering a new pet a good home. (my pets average lives are around 14 years...so I don't add to our pet family very often.. lol)

emoticonjob with your weight loss.


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TANYA602 1/30/2014 1:57PM

    Happy Anniversary! I am truly impressed that after 4 years you've managed to continue with your maintenance and good health. And Happy Belated Birthday! You continue to inspire me!

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STFRENCH 1/21/2014 3:07PM

    You have achieved so much, you have a lot to be proud of. I'm sorry to hear about your dog though :( Hope you had a lovely birthday x x

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MEXGAL1 1/16/2014 7:30PM

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Happy Sparks anniversary and what a wonderful and inspiring blog. You did it! terrific for you.
Best of everything to you.
Sallie

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MARILYNROBERT 1/15/2014 11:25PM

    I'm sorry about your dog. emoticon

What an inspiring story! emoticon emoticon

You are a little over a year older than me and I love that we can be so active (although I can't run anymore due to injuries). Let's keep this up Denise. Let's keep going until they put us underground. emoticon emoticon

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THENEWDARLENE 1/15/2014 8:09PM

    emoticon Thanks for the update, Denise, and the ongoing inspiration! May God bless you in your new endeavors.

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TRAVELGRRL 1/15/2014 6:16PM

    WOW, you are such an inspiration! Congratulations on your Sparkversary, AND birthday coming up!

I do miss your blogs but know you are out there, maintaining your weight and enjoying the life you SO richly deserve and worked so hard to attain!

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 1/15/2014 4:47PM

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Congrats on such a successful year! May this year be even better!

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LISAINMS 1/15/2014 4:41PM

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Congratulations on so much happiness and success!

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NEMETZC 1/15/2014 2:52PM

    Happy early birthday!!!

This was a great motivational post. I'm so proud of your commitment to healthy living.

Keep up the fantastic work, and know that you have a full community of people behind you all the way whenever you need support.

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NEPTUNE1939 1/15/2014 2:34PM

    emoticon Have a great birthday! emoticon Earl

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OVERHAULING-ME 1/15/2014 2:31PM

    AWESOME! I've been on SP since 2009 as well. Unfortunately not with the same results. You are truly a great inspiration! THANK YOU!

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PRETTYLILHEFFER 1/15/2014 1:09PM

    Love this! So happy to hear things are going well for you! Congrats on four years!

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FITWITHIN 1/15/2014 1:00PM

    What great accomplishments you have achieved doing your journey. Many more blessing to you in 2014 and beyond. I'm a Bodymedia owner and wouldn't change it for the world. It keeps my accountable and I see when I'm slacking. Best of luck to you in your new position.

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SHAWNEELLOYD 1/15/2014 12:57PM

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SparkRadio and other updates

Friday, September 27, 2013

Well, I was interviewed last night by Lily Hills for SparkRadio. Lily said it will air next Tuesday, so if you are interested, have a listen. It's about a 10-minute interview in two segments; I hope I shared something that will be of interest and help to others.

It's always surprising to me that anyone would be interested in what I write or say, quite honestly. Yes, I know I lost a lot of weight, but so have a lot of people here. I'm not special; I just found what worked for me and kept on until the weight gradually came off. Starting out with the mindset that this HAS to be a lifestyle change and not making any foods completely off limits made a huge difference, and the support and encouragement here helped enormously.

What I'm up to now: I'm (mostly) recovered from walking those 60ish miles last weekend and I'm getting ready for another half marathon this weekend (Sunday). I'm probably more than a little crazy for doing one so soon since we haven't been running all that much recently, but I got a chance to get a free entry to one of my favorite HMs (Bellingham Bay) and couldn't resist. The weather is supposed to be miserable and I may end up walking a lot of it, but hey, it's a free race and they have the BEST medals! This may well be my last HM of the year; I haven't looked too far ahead for any others for the fall/winter, but I'm not that fond of running 2-3 hours in the rain, which is our pace and what we have to contend with most of the rest of the year. We'll see.

I'm also pretty well set that I'm going to train for a full marathon next year. I turn 59 next year, and it hit me that if I want to do a full before I'm 60, it has to be next year. That's a good goal, but it means coming up with a serious training plan that focuses on improving pace first, then adds mileage. After last weekend's walk, there's no doubt I can cover the distance, but I'd really rather it not take 6 hours to do it.

The move at work got bumped back, so I have one more full week in the office with the possibility of a day or two the following week, then it will be occasional contract work with them while I look for another job or other options. I'm exploring network marketing with some products I love as well as other things, so I look at this as a chance to reinvent myself. Maybe I'll finally figure out what I want to be when I grow up, LOL!

Okay, enough for now. If you want to have a listen, tune in next week to SparkRadio on Tuesday and let me know what you think. Thanks all!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TEENY_BIKINI 11/22/2013 9:01PM

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JMARIES51 11/16/2013 6:25PM

    Finally listened to your interview on Spark Radio. It was awesome to hear your voice. I hope that everything is going well and that your training for the marathon is going well. You are still my motivation to keep moving! emoticon Joann

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LOTUSFLOWER 10/30/2013 8:19PM

    That is so cool! I just listened to Leslie sansone on the spark radio, what an honor to be interviewed! I can't wait to hear it and will definitely listen in.

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SMOCKON 10/8/2013 10:42AM

    Hey, a little more time for training, right? emoticon I've been following your progress for a while and am so thrilled that you have met your goals and continue to live this new life you've established for yourself.

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TRI_BABE 10/4/2013 5:02PM

    Wow! A lot of changes! I will have to listen to SparkRadio now! Excited to hear it!

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FRABBIT 10/1/2013 5:27PM

  You sound awesome on SparkRadio. Thanks for the inspiration!


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TRAVELGRRL 9/30/2013 3:12PM

    I love that you always have a goal in front of you! You never rest on your laurels. Congrats on being interviewed; I'll listen to it for sure!!

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CASSIECAT 9/29/2013 11:37AM

    Congratulations! And good luck with the HM and training for the full 26 miles. :)

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PAMATX 9/28/2013 3:28PM

    Neat stuff!

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PDQ1203 9/28/2013 9:40AM

    emoticon

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PENNYPEARLS 9/27/2013 10:53PM

    Congrats on the interview!! I love hearing the success stories on spark radio. emoticon

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LISAINMS 9/27/2013 3:16PM

    Congratulations! I will tune in for your "show".

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MEXGAL1 9/27/2013 2:11PM

    congrats for being interviewed. You have accomplished mucho! Good for you! I will try and listen.
Sallie

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GRACEISENUF 9/27/2013 12:18PM

    emoticon You are a very smart lady and you have accomplished so much, what an honor.

YAY! on the marathon...I will be cheering you on.


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Seattle 3-Day Walk

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

"So how was your 3-Day walk?"

How do you begin to answer that question? I thought I had a good idea of what I was getting myself into when I signed up to walk 60 miles in three days. I knew it would be work and that it would be emotional, but nothing could fully prepare me for the experience.

I trained for this event with lots and lots of walking, including back to back long walks and a weekend camping trip with my team to get a taste of walking miles three days in a row. That was a good preparation for the physical part of the walk. I knew I could walk at least the bulk of the distance, and I knew how to prepare my feet and what to carry. I was physically equipped as much as I could be.

The emotional side, though, was impossible to fully anticipate. Some of the highlights for me:

- Writing the names of the people I have lost to breast cancer on the memorial flag and then watching it being raised at opening ceremonies was even more emotional than I expected. So many names, so many reasons for walking.
- Feeling such pride in seeing team members who are survivors carry flags and hearing my trainer speak about why she walks in opening ceremonies.
- Crossing the I-90 bridge and trying to get waves and honks from commuters as we walked became a game that that made the l-o-n-g walk across seem much shorter.
- Arriving at Marymoor Park and getting our tent set up and decorated was a bit rushed, but our 'decor' (fluorescent and multi-colored bras on top, a leopard print mat out front) made it easy to locate our tent easy to find in the sea of pink tents.
- The simple pleasures of a hot meal, hot shower, and a nice foot soak in sweet-smelling salts refreshes body and spirit.
- Walking with a stranger on the second day who was in pain but determined to continue provided a little distraction for her and me both.
- It is better to prepare for the worst and pray for the best; the weather forecast for the whole weekend was dismal, but days 1 and 2 were beautiful, and the rain held off for the most part until well into day 3.
- Sometimes it's better to not look too far ahead to anticipate what is coming, especially if what is coming is a huge hill (or three) or the rain starts in.
- Talking to new people along the way provides a reminder of how important what we are doing is; standing in line at a porta potty, a woman mentioned she had lost some toenails. She had nearly been pulled by medical, but since she had lost toenails during chemo, she was determined to finish. She convinced medical to let her continue, because it was more important to her to do the walk than it was to protect her toes.
- Seeing women who were bald from chemo out there walking made being wet and cold on the last day seem extremely unimportant.
- Walking through cheering stations, both official and unofficial, seeing signs and hearing cheers for us was both motivating and humbling; how do you react to signs that say things like I am a survivor because you walk?

I could go on and on, but hopefully that gives you a glimpse. Was it hard? Yes, probably the hardest thing that I have done. While I was able to avoid any blisters, my feet and particularly my heel will be barking for some time. The effect on my body is temporary; the effect on my life is forever. Was it worth it? Absolutely; as a team, we raised over $155,000 for the Komen Foundation, and Seattle as a whole raised over $3 million. I couldn't have done this without the training, help, and encouragement of my teammates. Together, we DO make a difference.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LOTUSFLOWER 10/30/2013 8:20PM

    This is amazing. Made me tear up. I've always wanted to do this. I lost my mother in law to breast cancer and would love to honor her in this way and raise money for a cure.

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PAG2809 10/7/2013 11:23AM

    So proud of you! emoticon

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LISAINMS 9/24/2013 2:22PM

    Such an awesome experience all around.
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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 9/24/2013 11:29AM

    WOW! Powerful blog about an amazing event. Thank you for walking. My mom is a breast cancer survivor. Because people like you do thing like this. Glad you had a great time and will recover from this endeavor.

THANK YOU!

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PDQ1203 9/24/2013 9:24AM

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STFRENCH 9/24/2013 8:27AM

    This is wonderful!! Well done to all of you for raising so much money for such an important cause emoticon emoticon

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IRISHBEANERGAL 9/24/2013 1:02AM

    THANK YOU for sharing your story, and for sharing yourself to conquer this terrible disease.

~Irish

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MARILYNROBERT 9/24/2013 12:49AM

    Fantastic! emoticon

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Ch-ch-ch-CHANGES!

Friday, September 13, 2013

Thank you to all who commented on my last blog, "Maintenance: Nirvana?" It always surprises me when others are interested enough in what I write to read and comment on it, and I appreciate it!

Life is a bit chaotic for me right now; lots and lots happening.

I have been walking (and walking and walking some more) in preparation for my first Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk in Seattle. I was blessed to get connected with an amazing team, Kindred Spirits (some here know just how awesome that team is!), so that made fund-raising more doable, and I feel like I'm as trained for walking 60 miles in three days. That means not a lot of running for me, and not a lot of anything else on the weekends. I'm looking forward to what I know will be an emotional tim8 e; I'm walking in memory of the people I have lost to breast cancer and other forms of cancer, and that has expanded to include walking in honor of my teammates who have battled cancer themselves.

The company I've worked for since 2001 is also in the midst of packing up to move to Arizona. I considered going with them--for about half a second. We moved to the Northwest for my job 18 years ago this month, then I was laid off. Moving for a job unless it's to an area I actually WANT to live in is not even remotely an option in my mind. My husband is finally in a job he truly enjoys, my daughter, son-in-law, and grandson are here, and I love the Northwest. Nope, not moving for a company that could at any time decide I'm no longer a good fit for where they are headed, which is most definitely a possibility. They have not offered any kind of severance package for staying to the end, but I'm fine with working for them until they move and even doing some contract work for them if needed afterward. I do and know things that no one else is ready or able to take on immediately, so I expect more than one phone call as they settle in and figure out what they area doing. If it doesn't happen, that's fine, too, but I'll be surprised if there aren't a few panic calls for a bit, and possibly a trip or two to help get them set up and understanding things.

So where does that leave me as far as work is concerned? Unemployed and ready to explore my options. I should be in a panic myself but I'm not. My husband has been unemployed more times than we care to think about, and we have managed somehow. No, let me correct that; God has provided for us, although not always in the time or way we would have liked. I have started doing network marketing with a skin care line that is the best I have ever seen, so I'll see where that goes while looking for a full-time job. I'm also working on some jewelry that I plan to post on Etsy once I have time to get good photographs and price that I hope will help with fund-raising for next year's 3-Day Walk (yes, I'm already signed up!). One thing I'm looking forward to is having a little more time to spend here on SP and support my friends as I get my bearings after the walk and the move.

Changes, lots of them. That is the one thing you can count on in life: there will be changes, whether you like it or not. I'm taking the changes that are coming one at a time and trying to view them as an adventure rather than merely stress, which leads to anxiety (and often emotional eating--I am staying AWAY from that as much as possible!). Life is nothing if not an adventure, right?

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PAG2809 10/7/2013 11:28AM

    It does all work out, doesn't it? Perhaps not as you hope or on your timetable, but it works out. As you've already proven, you can do things you don't start out thinking you can do and you can deal with what life throws at you. I have no doubt that the two of you will get through this, so on the bad days lean on the belief that your friends have in you!

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TRI_BABE 9/22/2013 11:31AM

    Thanks for this! I needed to hear it. I am considering coming back to Seattle because there are so many jobs there. But as much as it's great there, I know how bad the SAD was for me last year, so I am going through if I really want to go back there too. Many times I've moved somewhere strictly for the job, job doesn't workout and then I'm stuck somewhere I don't want to be. Good reminder.

And hey if you get a couple of trips out of your company's move that's not too bad? AZ in the winter might be a nice break. emoticon

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GAYEMC 9/18/2013 8:15PM

    How exciting about the 3 day walk! (I myself am trying to prepare for the Portland half, way too late). I know loosing a job can be really stressful but reading your blog, the changes sound kind of exciting. And I know you'll land on your feet. Arizona? I don't think so.

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BEMILLER30 9/16/2013 10:30AM

    Wow! You have such a great attitude about this. Change can be so good, so hang in there. You are such an inspiration to me. I love how you handle situations.

You deserve nothing but the best, and I know you will find it.

That's so great that you are doing that 3 day walk! Good luck!

:)

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STFRENCH 9/14/2013 7:10PM

    I'm experiencing a lot of changes at the moment too; some exciting, some unbearably stressful - I'm trying to strike a balance to deal with it all.
Here's to us and the opportunities these changes will bring us! emoticon

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BLUEANGELLK 9/14/2013 12:46PM

    I too am at sort of a career crossroads and I can only say I pray everyday for the kind of quiet assurance you have. Thanks for showing me that it is possible

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LISAINMS 9/14/2013 12:26PM

    Change can be good. Your attitude is awesome and I wish you well in finding a new adventure!

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CASSIECAT 9/14/2013 9:04AM

    You have a great attitude about it all. :)

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SPARKLISE 9/14/2013 7:46AM

    What a great attitude!

Keep up the good work and good luck on your walk!! ( 3 days??? really???) emoticon

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MARILYNROBERT 9/13/2013 7:58PM

    It sounds like you have the right attitude to handle the changes well. emoticon I think you are making a wise decision to not move unless you really want to live in Phoenix. Sending good vibes your way! emoticon

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4-1HEALTHYCYNDI 9/13/2013 7:54PM

    Wow! Lots of changes for sure. Enjoy the process of discovering the new adventure.

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