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The Gray Days

Saturday, February 11, 2012

While it's been a busy week, nothing too spectacular or out of the ordinary occurred. It was one of those "gray weeks." We all have them. The world didn't end, but there's nothing to write home about. The funny thing is they always seem to occur this time of year. The time of year when the trees are bare, the skies are dull and there seems little hope that spring will ever occur. They are the gray days. We look out the kitchen window sipping our coffee or tea expectantly waiting for some ray of sunshine poke through those clouds. For you, maybe, it is a week with neither a loss nor gain. Maybe it's five successive days at the gym where you feel as if you haven't accomplished a single thing. It's those mornings where it's a struggle and in an effort to put one foot in front of the other.

You do it. You do it because you know down the road and around the bend there will be a tiny daffodil poking its head through the still frozen ground. It is these gray days that becomes the cement that holds our life and our progress towards health together. They are never anything to jump up and down or cheer about. They simply bind us and at most unexpected times warm us like a new fire on a wintry morning. They are the essence of life itself.

I was reminded this week of the benefit of these ordinary and often gray days. Two years ago I began training to run my first 5K. Listening to the wisdom and counsel of many SparkPeople friends I settled on the C25K process. I have to tell you, friends, it got boring in a great big hurry. Walking for a minute, running for 90 seconds and the like wasn't very motivating. I look around me at the gym and see people running for what seemed like at the time, forever. Here I was walking then running, walking then running over and over. One Sunday afternoon, I went to the gym, feeling very frustrated and ready to do something different. My gym has an oval track-10 laps to a mile, so I would always take a clicker with me to count the laps. I began running, and clicking, and listening to my music, and looking out the window. I lost track of time and when I looked down at my clicker it suddenly dawned on me that I only had four laps left before I had run a true 5K. I don't recall whether I was tired or not. I don't recall whether adrenaline took over. I do recall feeling this tremendous sense of accomplishment is I began to run the last lap. I was so overwhelmed that the time I felt tears well up in my eyes. Afterwards, I took my phone and snapped a picture of the clicker. I still have it. All of those boring, gray days suddenly paid off. I was runner.

I thought about that experience this morning as I started my day and I thought about how life really mirrors my training for a 5K. There a lot of aches, pains, and self-doubt, but as long as we stick to the process we know works, in the end we are running our own metaphorical 5K.

Be blessed today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 2/20/2012 3:50PM

    You are still a runner....

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NASFKAB 2/12/2012 2:22AM

  Thought provoking as usual

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    Here's to getting through the gray days and onto the sunny ones. I'm ready.

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HDHAWK 2/11/2012 2:00PM

    Wonderful! emoticon

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SPARKENISTA 2/11/2012 10:51AM


What a great victory! I guess it reflects what we talked about in my blog--that success comes from a great idea but also from sticking with it to fruition. You did that and it is really paying off for you. That's quite an accomplishment!

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WALKNLOVE 2/11/2012 9:49AM

    Loved it! And you be blessed today too my friend!As it turns out where I live, we have had a very mild winter, no snow & things are blooming when they shouldn't be...they don't know what to do. What that says to me is, we all need seasons of change...things to grow us & make us mature for when the time is right and the race is won!And you be blessed today too my friend! emoticon

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CIVIAV 2/11/2012 9:11AM


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Locating Happy

Friday, February 03, 2012

"So what you're saying is that if nothing changed for the better or for the worse for the rest of your life you would be happy just the way you are?"

I thought for a minute and then nodded my head. "Yeah, I believe I would be. I mean, I am sure there are things I would like to see, places I would like to go and people I would like to meet, but my happiness isn't contingent about all that happening."

"Well what about money? Don't you want more money?" I thought about that for a few minutes, staring down at the table in the restaurant.

"I want to be secure." I said. "I don't necessarily want to be wealthy, but I'd like to be secure."

So the conversation went. Larry and I were having our weekly lunch meeting. Larry's about 23 years younger than I am and quite naturally his perspective and his goals and objectives are different. Larry is raising two daughters, my children are already grown. A matter of perspective, if you will.

Don't get me wrong, this isn't some sort of rant against wealth. I don't begrudge anyone earning as much money as they feel compelled to earn. It is just that I am at a point in my life were wealth doesn't define success. So as I drove home I thought a lot about the conversation Larry and I had. If I'm not happy to begin with how can I be "happier?" If I don't feel I'm wealthy right now, how can I be "wealthier?" Yeah, it is a matter of perspective. My thoughts turned into a revelation of sorts. Maybe I've been approaching things backward for most of my life. Maybe, I should work on the now, the today, and tomorrow will become a natural byproduct. I am at a point in my life where downsizing is a positive term. Joan and I talk about moving into a smaller place, maybe a condominium, maybe in a climate where the weather is warmer. We talk about the uncertainty of retirement and wonder if it'll ever be a reality for us. Despite all the changes that have occurred in the landscape over the past five years I still have to count myself, baggage and all, as being relatively happy person. Sometimes I feel guilty about that. In this world that seems to be brimming over with drama, when all is said and done I am relatively happy. Somewhere, somehow we developed the notion that if you're not moving forward, your statement. Maybe, just maybe, it may be that you have stopped to inhale the scenery around you.

So when I looked across the table at Larry with somewhat of a cockeyed grin for the first time in a few days I felt fairly confident saying "Yeah, I'm happy just the way I am."

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 2/20/2012 3:52PM

    Being happy just the way I am is a powerful thought.

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NEEDTOLOSE100LB 2/10/2012 9:51AM

    Thank you for this blog. It helps me to know that what I feel when I am happy with what I have is good. People don't understand when I tell them I don't have a TV at my house and I don't have internet either. They ask me what I do. I read a lot, I walk a lot and I reflect at lot (not always a happy thing, but...) I enjoy not having the boob tube there every night demanding my time. I rent Netflix and have seen a lot of movies (on my laptop) of all kinds now. I need to read more non-fiction and be a little more consistent in my reading of scripture, but that will all come in time. I am a work in progress, but I am HAPPY with the progress. If you can't be happy with yourself, you cannot be happy and you are liable to make other people unhappy too.
Keep blogging and sharing.

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WALKNLOVE 2/9/2012 6:25AM

    Happiness is yours because you have learned that to be content is to be happy...not saying that we "stay put", but we appreciate and seek to see all the gifts that God has given us and that makes us joyful! God is our provider and he gives us everything we need that pertains to life and godliness. LOVED the blog John & LOVE your perspective on truly are blessed!!!!

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MARCYNA 2/9/2012 5:51AM

    Lovely, lovely. As usualy it's a great blog John!!!!

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JESPAH 2/7/2012 11:53AM

    ... are you really just a shadow of the man that I once knew? :)

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RSTENNER 2/7/2012 9:46AM

    Man, wish I would have heard about all of this before I got all these things I have to take care of! But really, finding contentment in the everyday moments of life is such a blessing. I used the excuse for cleaning my house for years, that I would rather go for a walk with one of my kids, than have a spotless perfect house. So now after five kids and 30 years of childrearing, I'm left with a house that has every closet packed full, and 500 hours of housework to do that I didn't do because I played with my kids! But I wouldn't change a thing, we had a good time, and guess what, the house is still there. Now my husband and I can spend the first year of our retirement cleaning it out! Hoarders here we come! emoticon

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WORKINGSTIFF 2/7/2012 9:07AM

    Great blog and a message for all of us.

I think the older we get, the more we realize that life is about more than just "the things." I've always cautioned my own sons that "possessions possess."

Life is not about the things we gather but rather the love we give and get.

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SPARKENISTA 2/5/2012 5:41PM

    John--First of all, if you are "happy" or "content" with your life, you are way ahead of the game. As far as material wealth, according to the readings that I have done, we all carry opinions about "those" people--or the 1% as is popular now.

Very often we have grown up with the idea that is morally upright to make due, or struggle for money. "Creating Money", the book I mentioned in my blog, talks about that a lot. I hope you do download it because I think it will help to clarify a lot of issues.

There are as many lousy poor people as there are rich people. Conversely, there are as many fabulous and giving poor people as rich people. Can we talk about Bill Gates who is giving all of his money to charitable foundations that he created with it--and not to his children.

Another great book on this topic is Barbara Stanny's book "The Six-Figure Woman". She not only deals with this topic in detail but gives thought-provoking exercises to help clarify our ideas about where our concepts started and whether we still buy into those ideas or want to evolve new ones.

BTW, did you ever get the "Healing Back Pain" book? If so, do you like it?

Please let me know.

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NASFKAB 2/4/2012 1:36AM

  Thanks great

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CARTOONB 2/3/2012 10:41PM

    On the road of life, I'm between you and Larry. However, I answered your first question quite like you did. I am happy just the way I am. I like where I am. If everything stayed exactly as it is now, I'd still be happy. Nice place to be, huh?

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7356WILMA 2/3/2012 7:57PM

  Thank you!! I need this today!!

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EXCUSES-BE-GONE 2/3/2012 6:38PM


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    I'm in the same place. When I was younger it seemed like having a lot of cool stuff was a win-win situation. Now it is a lot to take care of and I prefer to spend my life doing something besides care-giving to things. The more you have the more work you have to take care of it.

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GETFIT2LIVE 2/3/2012 4:04PM

    Learning how to be happy with where we are, who we are, how we are is one of the most important things we can ever do. It is a matter of perspective; thanks for the reminder, John!

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Philippians 4:11 “Not that I speak from want, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am.”
The entire blog I just heard this truth resonating...


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KKINNEA 2/3/2012 2:24PM

    Love it!

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VIVIANJ5 2/3/2012 11:07AM

    John, what a wonderful post! Gives all of us so much to think about...

I completely agree that we should never should stop striving to improve our lives, whatever improvement means for us. Lose weight, eat healthier, downsize, meditate more...but if it comes from a place of contentment, it's much easier to appreciate the journey and not get caught up in the arrival. Especially since we may never arrive!

Thank you for this wake-up call!

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HLPRATT 2/3/2012 9:43AM

    Good for you John!!

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TRULYVISIBLE 2/3/2012 9:32AM

  The different stages of life. When I was your friends age I was still chasing the dollar and making the mega bucks. Money is great for security and some luxury vacations but it does not make you happy. it is what goes on in your personal life that that gives you that inner peace and fulfillment. It is love, friendship and health that makes me happy and in the end I think fulfills people the most. As long as you can pay your bills and a little reserve for emergencies, I don't think above that does anything for your contentment and happiness in life.

Great blog! Written in your wonderful gifted way. I am clicking the like button.

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ZURDTA- 2/3/2012 9:02AM

    Yes.. xx

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TRAVELGRRL 2/3/2012 9:00AM

    I have two brothers in law; one's an attorney and one's a physician. They are my husband's brothers. They are both older and have no plans to quit working until they're 70.

My husband was a teacher and retired at age 55, ten years ago. I just quit my FT teaching job last May.

Do we have as much money as the doctor and the lawyer? Absolutely not. Are we as happy or happier? Absolutely. Every family gathering the topic comes up: "How could the teacher afford to retire when the doctor and the lawyer can't?"

It's all about being happy with what you HAVE. I know my husband wouldn't trade the last 10 years for any amount of money.

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CIVIAV 2/3/2012 8:58AM

    And yeah for that. Just maybe the world is in the state it is because many of us put out the energy that says, now isn't enough, I need more, I am unhappy. So important that we take care of our part, yes?!

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HDHAWK 2/3/2012 8:54AM

    I have to remind myself regularly to live for today and not for when. When I get my bills paid off, when I retire, when I lose the weight. I may not be here when so I need to be happy now!

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Working on Embracing Myself

Tuesday, January 31, 2012


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

WORKINGSTIFF 2/1/2012 10:11PM

    Wonderful thoughts, John.

I feel my own blog coming on based on what you've said. You are so right about being's a cure for what ails many of us. Instead of getting caught up in what we don't have or can't do, we have to look at the opposite--what we do have and what we can do.

Take care and keep bringing the good messages.


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NASFKAB 2/1/2012 3:59AM

  ?Thanks great

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HDHAWK 1/31/2012 8:14PM

    I was blessed to enjoy the same kind of weather yesterday and today and I took full advantage of it by getting some walking in. I am also blessed to have you as a friend!

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YAFENELRA 1/31/2012 3:55PM

    Beautiful blog!! Thanks for the reminders.

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MANILUS 1/31/2012 12:58PM

    Thank you for getting REAL, and yes you are a wonderful person! Every now and then we need that reminder to APPRECIATE ourselves. Embracing yourself is one of the most difficult things and yes far too many people play the envy card instead of acting on their own talents and inner/outer beauty! All the best!

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ALLISON145 1/31/2012 12:07PM

    You really ARE wonderful, John. Thank you!

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TRULYVISIBLE 1/31/2012 11:19AM

  Great message, great vlog!

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GINGER_BEAR 1/31/2012 11:05AM

    And may you be blessed too. emoticon

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SNOWANGELDIVA 1/31/2012 10:27AM

    You're home!
(Picturing you green still, cuz, you didn't tell me to open my eyes back up ~ just sayin'!)
emoticonI'm green...cuz, I have
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Know what though...I can't make emoticonwith emoticon
Thank you for the reminder to be content. You are so very right how much our contentment ties in with our health. If we're bitter and envious and feeling deprived we choose misery.
Choosing contentment.
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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LADILADIDA 1/31/2012 10:24AM

    Wish I could watch video blogs at work! I'll have to check this one out when I get home tonight! Love the title!

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"Having To" Versus "Wanting To"

Monday, January 30, 2012

I was involved in a real good training session last Friday. The group I facilitated was enthusiastic, participative, and into what we were talking about. While I love my job, I can tell you there are times when it seems as if I'm walking through a sea of Jell-O. This group was different. They were eager to participate in exercises and share their experiences. That enhanced the whole curriculum. I wish every group I worked with was as focused and as enthusiastic as this group. Driving home Friday evening I asked myself the proverbial "Why?" Why had this group been so eager and so excited about the day’s events? Here's what I came up with: They wanted to be there.

Usually, the first question I get from a group goes something like this: "What time do we get out of here today?" This group wanted to know: "When are we going to get together again?"

No matter what the task in life, we are basically divided into two groups of people. The first group is those who "Want To," and those who "Have To." No matter what the assignment or activity, you and I have one of two responses. We either want to participate or we feel that we have to participate because someone told us to.

I believe "having to," is the reason our health initiatives often fail. How many times have you heard from a doctor, "It's time you went on a diet!" If you are like me the first thing you do, is dig in. "No one is going to tell me what to do!" You are right, no one is. So you trudge along, in a begrudging sort of fashion, moaning and complaining about how difficult life is and you keep looking at the calendar and the scale waiting for the day that all this nonsense is over, you are size 0 again, you are running a marathon, and while you're at it. "Please pass the mashed potatoes." Having to do something often seems like a punishment. We resist as strongly as we can.

Think about the moments in your life where you done things because you have openly and enthusiastically, "Wanted To." It wasn't a chore or a burden, it was something you did willingly, and in most cases while there might've been hard work and effort involved in reaching your goal, you genuinely enjoyed the experience. Self-improvement, no matter how we look at it, is never an easy task. So this morning as I look out over the landscape that is my life, I am beginning to find ways to change my "have to's," into "want to’s."

Care to join me?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 2/20/2012 3:42PM

    My garden is a perfect example for me of wanting to vs having to weed, dig, plant, haul compost around, etc. I want to do it and therefore enjoy the hard work. If somebody TOLD me to go out there and shovel out a pickup bed full of compost into my wheelbarrow and spread it around the yard, my whole attitude would be VERY different. I should be able to have the same attitude no matter what, though, shouldn't I?

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RSTENNER 1/31/2012 8:48AM


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NASFKAB 1/31/2012 3:47AM

  Loved it

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CARTOONB 1/30/2012 10:18PM

    Goes with what I'm trying to find. My why. Once I figure that out, I'll definitely be a Want To!

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LADYANDREA2012 1/30/2012 8:49PM

    I love your Blog!!! It is very insightful and inspiring. I want to join you!!!!!

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7356WILMA 1/30/2012 8:02PM

  Very True!! I can't how many times I went to a seminar and so much more was gotten out of it because I wanted to be there, rather than the ones I had to be there. I think wanting to be here has been what makes this work so well most of the time!!

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HDHAWK 1/30/2012 7:47PM

    What a great meeting that must have been! This is something I can definitely work on, especially in the area of exercise!

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DEBRITA01 1/30/2012 2:14PM

    Oh, I think you wrote this blog for me. I suffer from the defiant child syndrome and will often resist anything that I'm feeling forced to do. It's something I work on every day.
Right now, I am convincing myself to get my exercise in and done for today, as now is the only time I'll have. I was feeling like I Have to do it. Instead, I think I will focus on all the reasons that I Want to do it...ok, it's a stretch, but there are some reasons. It's all in the perspective...thanks, John! emoticon

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GEEMAWEST 1/30/2012 1:56PM

    I'm in!

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TRULYVISIBLE 1/30/2012 1:20PM

  I had a seminar business for 30 years. The people that came to me were there because they really were excited to get this information and it was wonderful teaching to people who want to be there. They paid for the workshop themselves and came on their own time. Sometimes I would have people who were sent by their employers, didn't pay for it themselves but hated to give up their precious Saturday off work. They hated being there and put out a energy that could have changed the class and my teaching as well. My goal was to change their energy so they enjoyed the day. If not they were the ones to ask negative, "stupid" questions and probably on purpose. I am a introvert that does very well on stage and thinks quickly on my feet. I relate this to exercise. Do the exercise you enjoy and the days you do not feel like being there, change the energy to make if work for you. With a little effort it is just as easy to have a good day as it is to have a bad day.

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GETFIT2LIVE 1/30/2012 1:05PM

    So true; the attitude with which we approach things makes a huge difference. The days when my workout is a "have to" are not nearly as much fun or as enjoyable as the days when I do it because I "want to." And I've been in both of those kinds of training sessions, where people want to be there vs. have to--much more profitable and enjoyable when everyone wants to be there!

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LENKA763 1/30/2012 11:51AM

    I agree is time for change!

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SNOWANGELDIVA 1/30/2012 11:25AM

    John, I school our children at home and I am that special stubborn because it is an, "I have to situation". We school to meet special needs, or the older ones have chosen to. I find myself hating it. It is refelected in my job. I once loved it.
I'm joining you in rekindling that, "Loving feeling."

EDIT: I forgot to say, "Thank you!"

Comment edited on: 1/30/2012 11:27:18 AM

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NEEDTOLOSE100LB 1/30/2012 11:21AM

    Count me in. It has been a long time since I have "wanted" to be a normal weight and not hidden behind the extra pounds. Thank you for sharing your thoughts and helping us to see what we WANT!


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MORTICIAADDAMS 1/30/2012 11:16AM

    I agree. Attitude is everything. The old "glass is half full adage".

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GIRANIMAL 1/30/2012 11:09AM

    So true! I can easily see how this logic applies to many areas of my life. Now, to just remember it when I am fighting myself unnecessarily.

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GOOFIERNU 1/30/2012 10:51AM

    YES!! Thank you! Going to share this post. emoticon

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_AIYANNA_ 1/30/2012 10:37AM

    I know what you mean because I have a similar analogy with my students. I have students learning English because it's something the enjoy and it's part of their love for the English culture in general and then there are those who are there because their parents told them they had to and they can't wait for the moment the lesson is over. It's so hard to teach people who really do not want to learn :(

I, however, have reached a point in my life where I WANT to reach my goals of self-improvement, so I'd be more than happy to join you, my dearest John :)

Take care,
Elen xxx

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TERRIPAL1 1/30/2012 10:20AM

    Ok I'm in! I loved your blog and you are so right the things we want to do instead of have to end up being so much fun!
So let's want to do this!

Thanks so much!

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TWO-TOO-MUCH 1/30/2012 10:06AM

    Excellent! I'm with you. Improving the quality of our lifestyles should be something we look forward to, not something we perceive as a "horrible task". That's not to say it's easy, but the right frame of mind makes all the difference. Great blog!

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Nothing in Particular....... Just Spreading Cheer

Thursday, January 26, 2012

A rainy day pick me up

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 2/21/2012 5:46PM

    I don't have a twitter account and rarely remember my facebook account but I do hang out on sp. The people here are here to get better, to grow, to change, to live their lives.

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MAMAFISH1 1/28/2012 5:10PM

    Loved it, thanks.

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REJ7777 1/28/2012 7:15AM

    It's always disconcerting to realize we've unintentionally offended someone. (It's probably a good thing that we don't know how many people we actually do offend. LOL!) It's obvious that you're a people person, with excellent people skills. So you have lots of friends. Which, of course, increases your chances of accidentally offending someone. Thanks for not giving up in spite of it all, because I find your blogs and vlogs very encouraging.
(no response necessary)

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CINNAMONCAT9 1/27/2012 6:06PM

    Ha ha! oh brother.....maybe you should do thanks in advance for those who retweet your tweets?????? oh come on.....

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GIRANIMAL 1/27/2012 4:51PM

    LOL - as we've discussed at some length before, it's this very kind of techno-stress that keeps me a Luddite dinosaur at only 35! I just don't have time or energy for that kind of drama. I have enough real-life drama just getting myself dressed and through an 8-hour+ day 5 times a week! emoticon

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DANAB1106 1/27/2012 11:22AM

    Ah your background looks like what I see when my husband travel and we ooVoo. He hates traveling too.

Ha! I didn't realize you have to thank someone for re-tweeting. I barely tweet. I just can't get into it - I facebok, blog, and I think people get enough of me. I think that my blog posts to twitter though. I understand plagiarism to some point being in the blogging world, but seriously...facebook?!?

Oh I am so glad you are still here - I have missed your spunk! Hope you have a good trip even though it sucks to be away from the wife. I look forward to see you more.

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YOYONOMORE1 1/27/2012 9:44AM

    I know it's Friday not Thursday but you made my day. Thanks John. Have a great weekend.


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LAURI39 1/27/2012 7:46AM

    You don't have to thank me for my comment on your blog, consider yourself off the hook. I, however, have to thank you for this blog! You had me nodding and laughing the whole time.
Social Media has become like walking through a minefield!
Loved what you had to say about your wife - funny and honest.
Subscribed emoticon

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NASFKAB 1/27/2012 5:02AM


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MANILUS 1/27/2012 1:25AM

    I know what your saying, people don't like copycats apparently. I have family on Facebook who repost motivational quotes all the time, I could care less if they thank me. Let it roll off your back and move forward.

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LYNMEINDERS 1/26/2012 10:33PM

    Haha...I love it....and it is so so true....
technology doesn't make life easier....

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QUEENMOXIE 1/26/2012 10:11PM

    Thank- you, no thank-you, well I'm thanking you for thanking me. No, I'm thanking you for thanking me for thanking you. This could go on forever! I didn't re post this, so thank you anyway. Oh heck, never mind, I'll thank me and than you can thank me for taking the time for thanking myself! If these were my "friends" I think that I would get rid of them. emoticon

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HDHAWK 1/26/2012 7:45PM

    OMG! If thank you's and credit are that important to these people they have too much time on their hands. I did get a good laugh out of your vlog today though. And thank you for that!
Thank you too, for the comment on my blog.

Comment edited on: 1/26/2012 7:46:16 PM

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SNOWANGELDIVA 1/26/2012 6:41PM

    I wish I was a Twit I'd follow your tweets and thank your triangle!
Communication is not a Wedding where you need to send out embossed Thank you Cards (Wait, did I ever get that done? Yes. Go me!). I think that gift of 'time' and 'attention' reciprocated to the friendship is worth more, but, if they're in it for the hero bisquit...throw in a pat on the head and count yourself lucky that you know how deep they really are.
That's just an opinion of course.
I LOL'd to the point of snorting and thanking the Good Lord that I did not have a 'beverage of choice' for our visit.
Thanks, John.
I like when you're cooped up travelling, lots of vlogs!

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SHERRYJVP 1/26/2012 5:34PM

    I can't seem to get it...could have used your cheer, too. i will try later.

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