JOHNTJ1   61,453
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A Quick Update

Saturday, March 20, 2010

A very brief yet heartfelt note to thank all of you for your wishes, prayers and support. I knew I had some friends here at Spark but I didnt realize how many friends I had and just how much they cared.

The wake went well last night. It was mostly family members and so it was somewhat of a reunion. I liked the tone of the whole evening because it was more of a celebration of her brothers life and all the interesting and funny stories that went with it.

Joan was pretty tired and as write she is in the shower. The funeral is at 10:00 AM

I have stayed within my calorie limits. At the funeral home last night they had a veggie tray with some cream cheese dip. I ate a lot of broccoli and carrots and while I didnt feel full I felt satisfied.

The hotel cardio equipment is not functioning. No worries. The gym my son belong to is about a mile away and I can get a one day pass for fifteen dollars. I believe my health is worth fifteen dollars. So sometime this afternoon or early this evening I am going to get my cardio in.

I could write all day about how grateful I am for your support and prayers but I will leave it with the thought that I will pray for all of you this morning at the funeral service.


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DBELLE39 3/22/2010 8:08PM

    John so sorry for your loss -- but even in what many would use as an excuse to hit the junkfood - -you have overcame & are still shining that positive attitude. God bless my dear brother.

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SUBVET688 3/21/2010 9:48PM

    You don't know me from Adam, but I crossed your path here on SP and liked your positive page. I came in to read your blog because I knew it would be positive, and it is, even in your grief and stress. I recognize and appreciate that and think it is a great example of someone doing it right. Keep strong as I know you will. My prayers to your family.

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TINKERBELL200 3/20/2010 10:14PM

    John, you and Joan and the family are in my thoughts and prayers! That's the way a wake and funeral should be is a celebration of life.
I think it's awesome that you ate the veggies and went to the gym! You have definitely made some positive lifestyle changes! Keep up the good work.
Take care of yourself and your lovely family.

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PINETREEGIRL 3/20/2010 8:31PM

    For some moments in life there are no words. All my best to you, John.
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KATIEGLEN012 3/20/2010 8:23PM

    I am so very sorry for your loss. That the family is able to come together is wonderful and that the atmosphere is supportive. Take care of those you love, including yourself. You are in my prayers.

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SPARKENISTA 3/20/2010 7:32PM

    John--So sorry for your loss. I have not been getting notification of your blogs and just checked in now. It's easy to space out at times like this and revert to old familiar (and unhealthy) habits. Clearly, these few months have really changed your core.

I hope that the wake and funeral are a good catharsis and that you return home in a bit of a better state of mind.

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GETFIT2LIVE 3/20/2010 3:56PM

    You, your wife, and the family are in my prayers as well during this difficult time. Keep taking care of yourself and your wife; celebrating her brother's life together is one of the best ways to remember and honor him.

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DOLLBABE56 3/20/2010 1:14PM

    It was good that you were able to have a nice evening at such a sad time. My thoughts are with you both.

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KLEONIKI 3/20/2010 1:13PM

    I like reading through your lines that keeping your commitment to exercise and health is A FIRST PRIORITY so promising and motivating for me!
Good luck1
and YESSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSSS 15 USD are nothing for keep on the right track.DO IT!

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AMABILE75 3/20/2010 12:30PM

    emoticon emoticon emoticon

Thank you for the update my friend. You and your family will continue to be in my prayers, not just during this horrible time, but always. 'm glad to hear you have been taking care of yourself.

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BIBLIOHOLIC57 3/20/2010 10:48AM


My thoughts and prayes are with you and your family. It's good to know that you have such a supportive family.

$15.00 is worth it for the day at the gym. It's a lot easier to spend $15+ for a meal.

Take care of yourself. Get some rest, too!

Annie emoticon

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DOLLIE6 3/20/2010 10:29AM

    emoticon emoticon

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TAZZIEGIRL 3/20/2010 9:54AM

    You are both in our thoughts.

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WANDAH3 3/20/2010 9:37AM

  Give Joan a big hug for us too. I'm glad that you have been able to celebrate your BIL's life.


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NJMATTICE 3/20/2010 9:18AM


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STORMTMB 3/20/2010 8:56AM

    Thinking of the you and Joan this weekend. Give her a hug for me.

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CRYSELLE 3/20/2010 8:52AM

    *hugs* John I have been sick and quiet but believe me you are in my thoughts and prayers always!

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Being Out of Balance and Being Mature or How To Survive A Stress Filled Week

Friday, March 19, 2010

Ever feel like you are looking at the world through a bowl full of green Jell-O? Okay you can put your hands down now. Looks like itís been most of us.
Whatís the first thing we usually do? Ok Iíll answer because I am a pro at this. We grab the food of choice. And we grab and we grab and we grab. Then we feel guilty and despondent and then we give up because the almighty cookie, cake or brownie has assumed its control over us once again.

It reminds me of the riddle: Where does a 500 pound gorilla sit in your refrigerator? Any where it wants.

Up until this week my journey into Sparkville has been relatively stress free. Oh Iíve been tempted by that scent of chocolate and the sweet seduction of blackberry cobbler with a pure lard crust has tickled my fancy. I have been strong. I have survived. The past few days I have been looking at the world through Jell-O!

The phone rang at midnight, Wednesday. When the person on the other end begins with ďJohn, this is Joe. (My wifeís twin brother.) Iím afraid I have some bad newsÖÖ..Ē You sort of know he wasnít calling to see how youíre feeling.
In a nutshell Joanís oldest brother died in his sleep sometime between Monday night and Tuesday night. He had been in poor health for the past year, was single and lived alone. The best guess is he had a heart attack and peacefully slept away. So I hang up the phone. I sleep with one eye open, Joan sleeps like a rock. It would be even money if the second coming would wake her up or not.

So I have to wake her. Now imagine how you feel being woken up from a sound sleep to begin with. Imagine being all groggy and having someone tell you your oldest brother just died. Not a good feeling.

My daughters hear her crying, come in our bedroom and suffice to say we were up until four am. Emotional exhaustion causes us to crash for about three hours or so and then Joan gets busy communicating with her remaining seven brothers and sisters who are flung out across the United States. I am trying to reschedule my appointments until next week and well you know how you feel when youíre looking at the world through a bowl full of green Jell-O.
Somewhere in all of this Joanís youngest brother calls to say ďGuess what? He didnít have any life insurance and no other money to speak of.Ē Now grief has a twin, itís called massive stress. You are sitting there and thinking all sorts of evil thoughts about how someone could not have any life insurance, and then you think about the poor guy all alone. You go back and forth. You wonder who is paying for all this and then you mentally slap yourself for thinking like a butt head. Your wife is wondering the same thing only she must feel ten times worse than you do because it is her brother!!!

Why do I share all this?

In the past Iíd head straight for food and rationalize about a five pound gain from the fact that no one should or could blame me for eating. I am under a lot of stress and we just lost a family member and the list goes on and on.

I didnít. There were a couple times I wanted to but I didnít.

See, I think I am genuinely maturing. Yeah I reached age twenty one eons ago but now I am maturing. In the lesser moments I told myself it wasnít worth it and in the most stressful I went down stairs and did some meditation to relax and regain control of myself. I went out and cleaned the garage, picked up junk, picked up the back yard. I have stayed busy. I knew if I didnít stay busy, I would suffer the consequences.

Anyone here recall how Americans grieve? Yup, itís with food and lots of it. Iím not talking about wholesome, whole grain dishes with plenty of veggies. I am talking about Mac and Cheese, strawberry shortcake---------- stuff like that. I could throw my hands up in the air and blame the stars, the cosmos and anyone else who crosses my mind or I could have a plan

Slowly adult John took over. I suspect that for the rest of my natural life, when times of supreme stress arrive and I am looking at the world through green Jell-O I will want to eat. Each time I will be faced with a choice and each time I will succeed. In my mind there is no other option. Itís like breathing.
I am packing my own food. If someone throws a hissy, thatís tough. The good news is one of my sister-in-laws is a vegetarian. I will lean on her. My lap top goes with me so I can track my food and yes we are staying at a hotel with a workout room.
My wife needs my support. I will concentrate on that. I am a lot more mature today then I was a few months ago. The temptation is there but I will not give in. I am on the road to success. Just because I am stuck in some green Jell-O right now is no reason to give in.

I owe many of you a word of thanks. You are the people who have really supported me and encouraged me and when I needed it kicked me in the rear end. It will be a big help.

Like the James Taylor song says ďAint it good to know you got a friendÖ.Ē
I will see you all Monday. Be safe and God bless

I want to apologize if I didnít respond personally to everyone who posted comments on my blogs the past few days. I tried to get to as many of you as I could

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KATJAMN 3/22/2010 12:33PM

    I am so sorry for this loss. I am sure this has been a trying time.
Kudos for the self control.
Being there for the wife way more important.

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MARCYNA 3/22/2010 6:10AM

    So sorry for your brother in law, it must have been awful!
I'm admiring your conquered new attitude and rejoice at it. If you made it in extreme circumstance it's something which is now ingrained in your life...anyway my prayers are with you and yesterday at Mass I offered the Lord all the pain, and asked Him to take care of the whole situation. I'm sure He will!!!

Comment edited on: 3/22/2010 6:12:10 AM

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SAMGERBINE 3/21/2010 12:54AM

    Your family will be in our prayers.

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PINETREEGIRL 3/20/2010 8:33PM


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GREENCAT1 3/20/2010 3:10PM

    John so sorry for your loss. I am so impressed with the way that you take care of others, but never forget to care for yourself. You inspire me. My condolences to you and your family. emoticon

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TSISQUAUSDI 3/19/2010 10:19PM

    John, I'm proud to have you for a Spark Friend - You are a really good person! Kudos to you making good food decisions - You're going to win this battle!

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WANDAH3 3/19/2010 6:17PM

  I'm sure that Joan is really appreciating your comfort and support through all of this. Congratulations on putting temptation in its place.

Thinking of you all,

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TINKERBELL200 3/19/2010 6:14PM

    I'm really sorry to hear about your BIL death. I'm praying for peace for you and your whole family, especially your wife. I only have my 1 sister left in my family, so I know it's hard to lose a sibling or parent.
In spite of all the turmoil I think you are weathering quite well John. It sounds like you are indeed making lifestyle changes. It's easy to fall off the wagon, when stress hits us. Hang on and you will continue to succeed! Life is full of choices, and it sounds like you are getting it and making good choices.
God Bless and don't stress!

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AMYTATH 3/19/2010 5:52PM

    Ok...not to make light of this situation but...there is no reason to blame the Mac-n-Cheese!!! lol all time favorite food! =D

You guys know Im thinking about you and you have come along way not to turn food for comfort.

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TNTEACHER2 3/19/2010 5:37PM

    I wish you a calm, but happy family reunion at this sad time. You will see everyone, talk about the brother, and come home feeling a little better. It is always more difficult when we are not prepared for a death, but it hops right out at us. May God be with you.

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DIASTER 3/19/2010 2:03PM

  Even in your pain of losing a family member you are teaching us to plan ahead and keep on the right road. Always with grace and wisdom you are keeping us centered. Bless you and your family.

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TAZZAT2003 3/19/2010 12:18PM

    Oh John,
I am so sorry to hear this horrible news. On the other hand I am glad that you somehow found the strength not to slip. I know it may seem like you can justify taking a pit stop but, especially in light of these unfortunate events I am sure you realize how important your decisions are. I will keep you and you family in my prayers I hope that you can find wisdom and peace during this struggle. God be with you. And know that I am here.

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DOLLIE6 3/19/2010 10:41AM

    John, I'm so sorry for your family's loss. I will keep you in my prayers.
I am proud of you for your maturity on handling your food. It seems like if we can keep a grip on one something like that it makes us stronger, to be able to be there for others. I may not be expressing myself like I should but I have a feeling you understand. Be strong, John. We all are rooting for you.

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YOYONOMORE1 3/19/2010 10:07AM

    Thoughts and prayers are with you and Joan and the family. It sounds like mentally you have prepared for the food issue ahead of time, you know it's going to be there, but with your plan I am sure you'll do just fine. With Joan's family coming from all over I am sure there will be a lot of catching up to do with people, it's hard to eat and talk at the same time. Just take care of Joan and yourself.


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TRIPLE_EMME 3/19/2010 10:04AM


I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your BIL. emoticon

You've devised a good plan to combat the food temptations that may try to lure you down a naughty path. Good luck avoiding the green jello haze.


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CMBELISLE 3/19/2010 9:27AM

    I'm sorry to hear about your BIL - you know you and your family will be in my prayers.

Whenever I have to attend family functions that revolve around food like that, I try to follow a few mental rules - find the fresh veggie tray and pile 'em on (there is almost always one), find the fresh plain fruit (if available), the greasier it looks - the smaller the portion I take, and avoid the desert table. In the south, there are usually things like green beans, lima beans and other veggies available, so I get more of them, even if they are cooked with ham or bacon. I do my best to fill up on the foods with the lowest calorie counts.

Good luck - it was a really good idea to create a plan in advance.

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    Good job making a plan that includes bringing healthy food choices and going to the gym at the hotel. Maybe you can get outside and go for a walk in the morning too (if it's a nice location). I'm sure you'll be rock for everyone to lean on in this kind of situation, just don't forget that you deserve someone to lean on too.. we're here for ya :)

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NJMATTICE 3/19/2010 8:37AM

    Be safe. Take care.

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WALKNLOVE 3/19/2010 8:35AM

    John, Sooooo sorry for your family's loss. I hope your brother-in-law was a Christian.If so, he is in a better place...a much better place.I pray for all of your family during this difficult time.God will supply all your needs.
Glad to hear you have matured(LOL) takes us many years past 21 to get there!Ha!It is good to see you thinking ahead & planning ahead how you will take care of yourself so you don't fall back into an old pattern of doing things.We all know the old way doesn't work and that is what has brought all of us here.
Most of all thanks for being real! Being real is what makes us vulnerable, but it is also what makes us see we are all in this together and we aren't that different.By sharing with each other, we can learn from our successes as well as our failures! Thanks again for sharing and being a spark motivator to so many of us! emoticon

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STORMTMB 3/19/2010 8:32AM


My sympathy to you and Joan and to her entire family. Blessings to you as you provide comfort and support your wife and as you endure the temptations of food. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers this weekend.


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FOXEYES2 3/19/2010 8:23AM

  My condolences to the entire family. I wish you all peace and comfort in the days ahead and for you to have the wisdom on how to best support your wife and the rest of her family as well as the wisdom on how to best take care of yourself during this time. Peace.

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AMABILE75 3/19/2010 8:15AM

    John, I am so very sorry for your family's loss. You and your family will be in my prayers.

You are such an amazing person. So strong and dedicated. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for helping keep me motivated and for inspiring me. Thank you for showing how dedication really works. Even in the face of such horrible times, you remain dedicated. I am so proud to call you friend. emoticon

You take care of yourself. I know you will be there to support your wife because that is who you are. Just make sure that you take care of YOU too, because if you don't take care of YOU... you can't truly be there for her. emoticon

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MOTHERLORI 3/19/2010 8:14AM

    So sorry for your family's loss ~ it's such a difficult time! But I'm so proud of how you've handled it. And I know all about the food during grieving ~ our community loves to shower you with everything to make those bad feelings go away ~ but it just makes you sluggish and nasty feeling. So, it's great to know that you really have found a different way to deal with those horrible feelings. My thoughts are with you and your family during this difficult time. Meanwhile, I'll be sending you fruit and veggies in my thoughts as well. emoticon Lori

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Honoring My Commitments or Yeah I Know "Just Do It"

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Itís 4:50 AM. The gym opens in twenty five minutes and I will be there. It simply comes down to the fact that I said I would be there every day for forty minutes. I will be traveling all day to day and by the time I return home, I know I will be tired. I know I wonít change my clothes and head for forty minutes of invigorating cardio!!! So at 4:40 AM I drug myself out of bed and got dressed. Itís cold and I am not quite awake.


Because I looked myself in the mirror three months ago and said I would. I said Iíd honor the commitment I made to myself. Itís not all hearts and flowers and Spark Goodies. They are nice, they are appreciated and they give us a sense of belonging and friendship.

What kind of friend would I be to you if I didnít honor my commitments? What kind of example of health or motivator do I become if I donít do what I said Iíd do. In that case Iím not even honoring myself.

Thatís the most important thing. I could tell Joan and my friends and the kids that I ďover slept!Ē No one would know. I would. Iíd know I fudged on a commitment and then Iíd start fudging on a lot of other commitments and all of a sudden I am back to where I was three months ago --- lying to myself.

Donít pin an award on my chest. Iím not walking out the door with a huge grin on my face. A very large part of me would rather be under the bed. Iíll do my work out, shower and head for my first appointment of the morning. Iíll get home late this afternoon. No, this was not in my top ten things to do today.

I can lie to you all day and all night and in a lot of respects you would never know. I cant lie to me anymore. I can be something Iím not or I cant say something I donít mean. It is the very small things in life that make up the total fabric of a large and beautiful tapestry. It can be very small actions that push us to great victories or by the same token unravel the whole fabric.

Sorry this is short. I have to honor a commitment I made to myself.

Care to join me?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BTINTERNET 8/12/2010 10:41PM

    I know you wrote this a while ago but I'm only up to here in reading the archive, but I had to say something. Honoring that commitment is SO hard for me - thanks for the gentle shove.

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TINKERBELL200 3/18/2010 9:59PM

    John you are awesome! You are exactly right, you would be lying to yourself. And if you can't be honest with yourself, who can you be honest with? Keep on keeping on and you will meet your goals! Your doing emoticon!!!! You know you're committed when you just do it anyway, whether you feel like it or not!!!

Comment edited on: 3/18/2010 10:00:19 PM

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GIRANIMAL 3/18/2010 3:27PM

    Bravo! Sometimes it really is just about nose-to-grindstone getting it done. And you did! emoticon emoticon

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TNTEACHER2 3/18/2010 12:35PM

    AS always, John, it hits the spot!

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WORKINGSTIFF 3/18/2010 11:47AM

    I am not, repeat, not an early A.M. exerciser. Made a decision a long time ago that as long as I get the workout in, I have to make it at least bearable for myself, or I won't commit.

Kudos to you for being there for yourself. You are right-no one but you would know your reasons for not getting there.

Thanks for living as an example for the rest of us.

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DOLLIE6 3/18/2010 11:16AM

    You are right John, just do it. No fan fare, no lies, no whinning, just do it.
Thanks for sharing. I hope you had a good day. emoticon emoticon

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TAZZAT2003 3/18/2010 10:42AM

    I have always told everyone I call friend, Honesty is the most important part of any relationship. I think one thing that slips most people's minds is you have a relationship with yourself. If you lie to yourself you are hurting that relationship and possibly other relationships as well. Glad that you are staying committed to yourself. I will not be at the gym this morning but you can bet your britches I will be there this evening.
Have a great day John!


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TRIPLE_EMME 3/18/2010 10:27AM

    Wow! Your blog entry is just the kick in the butt that I need.

Thank you!

Yes, I do care to join you!

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KATJAMN 3/18/2010 10:16AM

It wouldn't count if we loved every minute of it!!! LOL
You are so wonderful with words.
Thanks for being you and honoring your commitment!!

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VTORIA3 3/18/2010 9:15AM

    Great blog. Honesty is good and, in fact, a requirement. I can't rah-rah all the time. Some days are just very hard. It's what you do with that to turn it into a positive that counts. We can create our own results. Kudos to you today for sharing your story.

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BIBLIOHOLIC57 3/18/2010 9:15AM

    John, you rock!

I've learned that the time I'd spend arguing/discussing/coaxing myself to NOT exercise is more of a waste of time than just doing it (oh no, I'm paraphrasing NIKE!). And I feel more energetic, happier when I do.

Good for you, and keep it up.

Have a great day!


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NJMATTICE 3/18/2010 9:05AM

    Keeping promises to yourself. Way to go.
I'll join you and I'll eat a vegetable/grain and bean combination for ya. With a fruit for dessert!

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STORMTMB 3/18/2010 8:08AM

    You make a great point in that once we start breaking commitments in one area of life, they start to slip in all other areas too. Thanks for a great reminder.

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CMBELISLE 3/18/2010 7:54AM

    No matter how much I want to sleep late and/or hit the snooze button, I somehow manage to drag myself out of the bed, up the stairs, change into my workout clothes, get my coffee and hit the bike or elliptical. Once I've done it, I usually feel better and have more energy to face the day. It doesn't mean I like it or want to do it all the time, it's just what I know I NEED to do it. I can face the day better and even though I often exercise longer since I switched to exercising first, I have found that I can usually make it to work earlier too. Being true to yourself is the biggest priority we all have - it's absolutely amazing how easy that is to forget.

BTW - I was on the bike at 4:45am, so you could say that I already joined you.

Comment edited on: 3/18/2010 7:56:12 AM

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WANDAH3 3/18/2010 7:50AM

  John, Amabile75 said it so well. Yep, we might fight and argue and drag ourselves to do our exercises...but we sure do feel great once they are done. It's the honoring our commitment to change our lifestyle and become a healthier person that gives us such an energy boost.

Have a great day.


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KLEONIKI 3/18/2010 7:48AM

    Totally with you!
See ya there! emoticon

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AMABILE75 3/18/2010 7:46AM

    One that that always amazed me is how even on those days you drag your butt kicking and screaming to the gym, the entire time fighting with yourself, trying to force yourself to turn around and skip today.... after you finish your workout you feel so great! Sometimes I feel even better because on those days I not only feel great for getting in a good workout... but for doing it when I really did not want to!! Way to go!!

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DOLLBABE56 3/18/2010 7:21AM

    You'll be glad you did go exercise when you get there. And you will also be proud and confident for the rest of your day. Now, to get myself up and motivated too!

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MARCYNA 3/18/2010 7:11AM

    Join you, join you!!!!...made it to the gym yesterday and ordered my costume for the show.
Me on stage is a committment to SP.
Love, thanks for being an example emoticon emoticon

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KATIEGLEN012 3/18/2010 6:44AM

    You are bound to have a great day...since you got off to such a good start. Being true to yourself is an important part of having a good day!

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JNNANNE 3/18/2010 6:13AM

    I think you've nailed it on the head - we can lie, excuse, explain away almost anything to others, but you can't get away with lying to yourself. Congratulations and keep up the great work!

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The Journey To Health and It's Decisions

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Before I began this journey towards health I lived under the misperception that there were all kinds of things and people that I needed in my life. I clung to that notion like a drowning man clings to a life raft. I drew lines in the sand. Either you were for me or you were against me. If you were for me, you had better agree with what I say. If you didnít, well you were history. What you had to say contained little to no value if you made the choice to not agree with me. Of course I never spoke any of it out loud. It all swirled around in my head and the harder it swirled, well the more I ate. My name is John and I am an emotional eater.

HappyÖÖÖÖ. Pass the pasta. SadÖÖÖÖ. Send in the burger, fries and beer. AnxiousÖÖÖÖ there is a cake with my name on it someplace. I clung to those beliefs with a tight fist. We all do. We all have those beliefs inside of us that motivate us. Yes I said motivate us, but in the wrong way. Instead of pulling us closer to a healthy life style they push us further away. They teach us to say the right thing so that everyone around us nods and smiles. Thatís because we are scared that if those people knew what went on inside of our heads they may not like us. My name is John and I get scared.

Sometimes I am scared of being scared. Some days Iím scared and I donít know what I am scared of but Iím so used to being scared that itís just ďwhat I do.Ē I canít tell you any of that. You may not care for me, or support me or cheer for me. Itís all about control.

Then there came a cross roads of sorts. Itís time to go one way or another. ďTimeĒ that voice said inside of me. ďTime to let go.Ē My name is John and I was petrified.
I know how to be fat. I know misery and I know people that will tell me anything I want to hear just so Iíll go away. Let go? There are people who ďsayĒ they care but in the end their actions speak differently.

I let go. For me it was one freaked out moment.

Health in every way shape and form means that I let go of the toxic and embrace that which challenges me to grow. As long as we cling to the toxic, whether itís a food, a thought or a person, then we are only fooling ourselves. We live in a society that encourages us to be toxic, to make excuses and to deal with symptoms and not diseases. If you donít believe me go into a book store and look what two sections are the largest? They are the sections on dieting and on self help. We are encouraged to get smaller and smarter without really ever coming to know ourselves or the person sitting next to us. We are encouraged to polarize.

This whole Spark process breaks that mold. It tells us to be healthy and to be happy. But I learned in my own life that until I consented to let go and let other people help me attain those two goals I would never reach them. Itís meant I had to admit that my way wasnít always the best way and that there were other people who knew more than me.

The amazing thing is that as I dig deep I am less and less concerned with food. I find myself stressing less and less about what I eat because what goes in my mouth is benchmarked against the growing sense of excellence I have concerning myself. What I work on with a dizzying diligence is my perception of my health and establishing relationships with people who can help me do that. I am breaking the mold.

There are people who do not have my best interest at heart and I had to say good bye to them. It hurt, it was painful but at age fifty six I figure I got a good fifty years left and there is a bunch of stuff I want to do. I am not ready to concede. This chrysalis I have experienced is due in large part to you who sit and read this. If I was the kind of person who liked to embarrass other people Iíd name you one by one and then write forever about the unique part of you that you have shared with me. Yes, I made the choice to listen to you. I get a gold star for that, but it was you, right there, sipping your coffee or water that helped me learn to let go by your life.

The past is behind us and beyond our grasp. Time to let go of old ways and come into the healing light of healthy self awareness.

In the most sincere sense of the word, I love you all.

Itís only been three months. My God how good will it feel in three years?

Have a blessed day.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Hey John,

I'm right there with you on this one. I love to help other people but accepting that I need help from others or that I'm wrong about something is so, so difficult.

Being able to write about my feelings and see that there's someone else out there who has the same reactions makes this whole thing a lot less scary.


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GRAMMABENJI 3/18/2010 12:29AM

    you have such amazing blogs. you write well and share your feelings with all of us.

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KATJAMN 3/17/2010 5:36PM

    Hey John,
another great blog.
I love this process of self awareness, I also hate this process of self awareness. LOL
Thank you so much for you words of wisdom and strength.
I do believe we are gonna make it!!!

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WANDAH3 3/17/2010 4:40PM

  Thank you for your wisdom and for sharing it with the rest of us.


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TRIPLE_EMME 3/17/2010 3:18PM


Thanks for sharing your heart with us.

I love you, Sparkfriend!


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_RAMONA 3/17/2010 12:41PM

    " I dig deep I am less and less concerned with food."


{{{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}}}}}

Comment edited on: 3/17/2010 4:52:44 PM

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STORMTMB 3/17/2010 12:32PM

    "Health in every way shape and form means that I let go of the toxic and embrace that which challenges me to grow. As long as we cling to the toxic, whether itís a food, a thought or a person, then we are only fooling ourselves."

Your words spoke to me, John. Nothing that I can explain here, but the Voice from above has used 2 or 3 people to deliver this message. Pretty soon I'm going to get slapped upside the head... As always, thanks for your words of wisdom.

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ALICEELIZABETH4 3/17/2010 12:29PM

  Hi John, I am new here. I read your blog for the first time today. I, too, have come to the realization that I need help to live a healthy lifestyle that is also full and meaningful. I have been used up so to speak in meeting the needs of everyone around me and have noticed that when I hear feedback they are mostly allowing me to help to make me feel good about me, and that feed back blew me away! I have been wearing myself out to help those that don't really need help except maybe in the drama department. With the help of my medical doctor, I am starting the first day of my healthy lifestyle journey today. Thank you for your blog. I look forward to hearing more.

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BECCALYNN75 3/17/2010 11:50AM

    These two sentences really stood out to me:

(1) We live in a society that encourages us to be toxic, to make excuses and to deal with symptoms and not diseases.
(2) This whole Spark process breaks that mold. It tells us to be healthy and to be happy.

I think this is what I had to "get my head around" too. For me it became the line in my signature "Taking responsibility and not allowing excuses". Some of those were my excuses, some from others who may have meant well, and some from society in general.

Another great blog John! I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and feelings so openly and wish I could express myself half as well.

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MOTHERLORI 3/17/2010 11:25AM

    Happiness is a choice ~ I always try to surround myself with happy people, so when I'm choosing not to be happy, they remind me, it's my choice. That's why I always read your blog John, you understand what so many people don't, how we live our life is our choice, how we deal with our emotions is our choice, how we overcome our difficulties is our choice. I appreciate your choices! Lori emoticon emoticon

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TNTEACHER2 3/17/2010 10:50AM

    Another good one, John.

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GREENCAT1 3/17/2010 10:37AM

    John - I am sitting here in tears. Your blog was exactly what I needed to hear today. For some reason I am feeling overwhelmed by all of the major changes and little changes that I have been making and that I have ahead of me yet. I feel that I am at a fork in the road and I either cling to the old, comfortable ways and live with the consequences, or bravely walk into the unknown and embrace health. I don't think I can live to my fullest potential and do all of the things that I am led to do if I back out now. Your words speak to my heart and have given me some strength on a day when I surely need it. Thank you for sharing.....

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CMBELISLE 3/17/2010 10:32AM

    Fear can be a great paralyzer and when we work toward leaving our "comfort zone" we are often afraid. However, living a successful and happy life often requires us to leave that zone.

As usual, another great blog.

Hope you're having a great week!

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TKRINER 3/17/2010 10:01AM

    Thank you for your blog. It's very insightful.

Feel the fear, do it anyway. - Jillian Micheles

When I start to get scared I remember this quote.

Hugs, Tami

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YOYONOMORE1 3/17/2010 9:56AM

    John, you are an amazing person and a great inspiration, you certainly do have a way with words that reach out to us and help us want to continue this journey together. A very Happy St. Patrick's Day to you and Joan, I take it this is a day of celebrating in your home. Keep the blogs coming.


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TAZZAT2003 3/17/2010 9:50AM

    For me it has been just over a month. However, in that month I have grown so much. A lot of that growth has been because of you, John. When I first read your blog I was in "Aww". Your honesty, your optimism and your sincerity touched my heart. I thought to myself, "I wish I could be optimistic like him. I wish I had something profound to say that would have a positive impact on someone's life." Then, one day, it just happened.(I believe it was the day you posted about choosing to be happy.) I decided to be happy. Now, more often then not there is a big smile on my face and I am sharing my experience with others. I do not know for sure but, I like to think that I too have been able to positively impact someone's life.
The journey to health and happiness is long but, always know that you have got a friend here, always.

In light of the occasion:

May the road rise to meet you,
May the wind be always at your back,
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
May the rains fall soft upon your fields,
And, until we meet again,
May God hold you in the hollow of His hand.

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AMYTATH 3/17/2010 9:28AM

    John!!! This is so totally what I did about 9 months might not know this to talk to me now but I used to be one of the most pessimistic people you would have ever met! Life was out to get me, everyone I really talked to had drama and life was just drama. Stuff at home was hard and I always thought about the negative. Then I was reading one day and one sentence caught my attention and changed my life. "If you only think and dwell on the negative, negative is all you will see." It went on to explain that negative thinking brings about negativity. Instead of THINKING about the negative, find the positive and think and talk about that.

OMG it changed my life. Yes, life happens and sometimes its negative but if you find the positive you can still be happy with life. I don't associate with the people who only want to talk about the fight they had with someone, or how they hate their job and the people they work with...ect. My home life is better, my JOB is better. It was even reflected on the annual evaluation I got at work about a week ago.

Thinking positively and surrounding yourself with people who are positive brings positivity in your own life!!! I live by this now!

Have a great day John!!!

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KLEONIKI 3/17/2010 9:27AM

    Yes, yes!
I can relate to this blog too... My words, are accurately spoken by you dear John!

It is soothing to find another one of one's kind...

But It is better if after THE CHANGE had taken place , the relation could continue to exist! This is the challenge for me!
To be able to exchange words even out of points- rewarding mode, to have the interest to share even though some or all of us have reached the goal aimed... In other words to become FRIENDS.

Good luck with you journey!
Keep on the good job!

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NJMATTICE 3/17/2010 9:16AM

    You'll feel thinner. That's my guess.
For me it has been a process of allowing myself to mature. (grow up) I can still be child-like but have to let go of the childish. I was clinging to the dependent side of my nature. Dependent on everyone else but myself to get my needs met. That way I could blame others for my unhappiness. Spouse, family, food, alcohol, cigarettes whatever or whoever. I was a victim. Poor me.
The phrase that resonated with me this fine St. Paddy's day morn with the bright sun on my shoulder, (run on sentence, my favorite literary device) is this:

"growing sense of excellence"

A nice term for high self-esteem. I like it. I'm taking it with me. Here's what my Spark Journey has taught me.
Self Esteem is build one healthy choice at a time. Every time that I do the work, make the hard choice, keep the promise that I have made to myself, my self esteem grows. With good self esteem, good choices become easier to make.
Distilling this has given me the simplicity that I need to succeed. And finally becoming a "responsible adult" has given me a terrific quality of life. I'm the boss. I'm large an in charge and I love it.

You have inspired me to be verbose. You are doing great. You are also Large and In Charge my friend. Have a great day. Erin go bragh or whatever that means.

Comment edited on: 3/17/2010 9:17:22 AM

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AMABILE75 3/17/2010 9:15AM

    emoticon We are right here to walk this path with you. Some days we may decide to take the quick direct route, while others we want to take the scenic route and make a few stops along the way. We're here at your pace, on your time table, when you need us. emoticon You are simply amazing!! Three months... wow! In three years NOTHING will be able to hold you back! :)


Thanks for all of the support you continue to give me on my blogs & my page. Your support has truly made a difference in my life. emoticon

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MARCYNA 3/17/2010 8:40AM

    Hi John, what you've written is all about me - and I'm sure my name's on everything with 'chocolate' on it.
BTW I'm thinking I might as well CHANGE the people I hang on with.
Just as I'm starting to change the food I eat, I need to let go of wrong people.
Lots of love,
emoticon emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/17/2010 8:45:37 AM

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BUGGYS 3/17/2010 8:15AM

    OMG! I could have written this blog...thank you for putting all of my feelings into made my have such a great attitude and you will reach your goal emoticon emoticon

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Small Acts of Kindness and Our Journey Towards Health

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Of my top ten things to do in life, walking outdoors in the morning is right up there. Once the weather warms up for good in mid-April, I enjoy getting up around 5:30 and taking a walk. It is cool it is quiet and I use the time to think, meditate, pray and plan my day. As it gets close to mid-April the more excited I get. Itís one of the things I really look forward to. Thatís not why I am writing about my morning walks although I certainly love the benefit.

Every morning I walk the same route. A few summers ago I would walk down a street that had a bus stop. As I did I would pass the same person walking the opposite way toward the bus stop each morning. I would always smile and say hello to them. I am not a quiet person by nature, nor is my voice soft. If I say ďgood morningĒ to you, most likely you will remember it all day as will people in surrounding counties. I always make it a point to give a person eye contact when I talk to them. When Iíve said hello to you, you know youíve been said hello to. I enjoy smiling. I know if you smile at me I feel good. So along with hello you get a smile.

So each morning as I passed her at roughly the same time each day, I said ďhelloĒ or ďgood morning.Ē One Friday, towards the middle of August I performed my usual ritual and continued my walk. As she passed by me I heard a small voice say, ďExcuse me, sir.Ē

I thought maybe I dropped something so I stopped and turned around. The woman smiled slightly and said;

ďI wanted to thank you for your kindness these past few months. I have had a rough summer. I wont get into it but things havenít been good for me. But there was one thing I could always count on, your smile and your ďhello.Ē It made my day seem that much easier to bear.Ē

She smiled again and turned around and walked towards her bus stop. Talk about your major life lessons!! You and I never know the impact, positive or negative we are going to have on a person simply by what we say or what we donít say. I was being friendly and polite. I had no idea my good morning meant that and a lot more.

The lady taught me a huge lesson. If you ever meet me, youíll know itís me. Youíll hear a warm hello and a get a pleasant grin. Oh, I know, some people think Iím a stalker but you know what reaction I get the most? Most people sort of let their guard down and smile back or say ďthank you.Ē I can tell by the look on their faces they mean it. Someone recognized them.

We all want to be recognized, whether we admit it or not. We all like to hear our names spoken or written. It singles us out as special. And, um, well we are!!! When we take the time to acknowledge another person we never know the full extent of the good we do.

When I love you, I love me, plain and simple. There is a lot in you to love because there is a lot in me to love and the more I practice that notion the more I grow and the more dependant I become on myself and the less dependent I become on food and other destructive habits.

This morning I am going to start randomly finding Sparkies I do not know, introduce myself and encourage them. I encourage you to do the same. Ya never know when that little push might be the best one someone ever gets.



  Member Comments About This Blog Post:


    Your story is so true. One of my favorite things when I'm out for a bike ride, walk, or jog, is to say hello to someone going by. This all started for me when I first started jogging back in 2004 and I heard someone from across the street that was running shout to me "hey, good job, keep it up!"

Woah... some random person just said "good job?" It was the best encouragement ever. I still remember it today and now make a point to say hello or ringing my dorky bike bell and waving at someone else outdoors. It's a fun way to share the encouragement :) Great job.

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GRAMMABENJI 3/18/2010 12:32AM

    It would be wonderful to meet you. you are so uplifting. I am going to be finding some sparkies too.

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MARCYNA 3/17/2010 11:36AM

Give and you'll be given in John's interpretation,just love it, I wanna try it -I'm afraid not with the kind of voice you have. emoticon emoticon

Comment edited on: 3/17/2010 11:42:38 AM

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TNTEACHER2 3/17/2010 10:46AM

    In the cafeteria at Union City High School, where I used to work, there was a sign which said "Smile. It may be the only smile a student sees during the day." I thought, "How sad." Of course, our director of instruction always told us teachers to smile just before we began presenting the lesson. As a teacher, I smiled at everyone. I like teen agers! And when I smiled, they usually smiled, too. Thaat made me happier.
One of our duties, as God's children, is to notice our fellow humans and to help them through their jouneys on this planet.
Well said, John, and especially well smiled!

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KATIEGLEN012 3/17/2010 5:57AM

    This reminds me of the Prayer of Jabez...use me Lord, I do not need to know or understand the whys...just use me.

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WANDAH3 3/16/2010 4:48PM

  Thank you for sharing. I love the ripple effect of goodness you have created. Like you, I make it a point to smile and say hello to those I walk past when out walking. I especially love the looks of astonishment on the teenagers faces! They are so amazed to be greeted and smiled at. Makes life fun.

Have an awesome day,
PS...I putting out the warning...I'm a hugger!

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CMBELISLE 3/16/2010 1:31PM

    So eloquently stated. When I'm walking (and in all other parts of my life), I always try to smile and/or say hi to anyone I see. Some people smile back and some scowl back. I feel kinda sorry for the scowlers, but the smilers make me feel good. It's one of the few things we can do where we reap the rewards almost immediately - not always, but quite often.

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GOLFCHICK2-0 3/16/2010 1:17PM

    Good Morning to you, John!! How sweet a story that is! I'm one who was brought up with "Please" and "Thank You" as part of a natural vocabulary. I have found by throwing in a happy smile and saying "Hello!" has made people's day just a little brighter..

A couple weeks ago, going through the smog check at DMV, somehow I ended up in the slowest lane. Everyone in front of me was giving the poor guy a hard time. He sure let me know that my smile and good attitude made his day better.

Spark it Forward!! emoticon emoticon

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KATJAMN 3/16/2010 12:59PM

    I would love to be the person getting that smile and the hello.

I strive to be the same way. When anyone walks in the bank where I work, they will always get a big hello and a smile. I love the shocked reaction some people get on their faces.

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AMYTATH 3/16/2010 11:01AM

    I find my self doing the same thing with the smiles! When Im walking down the halls at work I try to make eye contact with everyone, smile and say Hi, good morning, have a nice night, whatever fits. At the hospital I used to work at, there was a mirror above the time clock and it had a sign on it that said..."Smile...its contagious" That phrase has stuck with me for ten years now!

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TAZZAT2003 3/16/2010 10:43AM

    Good Morning, John. Thank you once again for another fantastic lesson in spreading the spark. I hope you have a terrific Tuesday. Something tells me you will.

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TRIPLE_EMME 3/16/2010 9:48AM

    Good morning, John!

Thank you for sharing your story; it is inspiring.

And, I love your new plan.


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AMABILE75 3/16/2010 9:19AM

    GOOD MORNING JOHN!! emoticon

How wonderful that you were able to touch another person's life in such a way. You are a good soul.

I do love finding new SparkFriends and just drop in and say hello!! I will do that today. Thank you for the encouragement.

emoticon emoticon

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WALKNLOVE 3/16/2010 9:07AM

    Yea, I am the same way! And whenever I meet someone new, in most cases I give a hug, cause I am a hugger! Hugs are always good things, unless of course you see that imaginary sign around their neck that says,"Don't touch me."(Sometimes we have to respect their need for privacy.) But just about everyone needs a smile & a here's one right back at cha! emoticon Thanks for sharing that simple truth that even the smallest, random act of kindness can go a long way to brighten someone's day!

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STORMTMB 3/16/2010 9:00AM

    There is a person who has come into my life recently who always, always uses my name. I love it. I love his voice and I love to hear him say my name. It calms me and gives me peace. I can't say I've ever felt it before. Not like that, at least. It's not a romantic thing. Just a "you're special because you're a human" thing.

What I've noticed is that he knows everyone's name, no matter their status, gender or age. He takes the time to ask and remember. He only heard my name once and remembered. While one may say it's a great memory, I truly believe it's because he takes the time and care to remember.

It has been an awesome lesson for me and one that I am acutely aware of now. You are oh so right that one small act can have such an impact on a person. A hello, a smile, an acknowledgement. Some days it's what I need to get through the day.

Have a great day, John. emoticon

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JATOBY51 3/16/2010 8:57AM

    emoticon GOOD MORNING
Thanks for sharing this story! Thanks for reminding me that our smiles and small acts of kindness do touch people! And especially if we touch one person the way you did it is all worth it!

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BLUEGOOSE2 3/16/2010 8:53AM

  You are such a special person John and a very GIFTED writer. Thank YOU!!!.

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NJMATTICE 3/16/2010 8:52AM

    Random Act of Sparkness. Smiles are a great investment. They cost nothing but exact a great return! My children get so uncomfortable out in public with me. I go up to any stranger and ask them questions like "That's a great hat, where did you get it?" or make random comments to young parents like "Oh, I see you have your helper with you today." They roll their eyes and say "Yes I do." Then smile. I remember how challenging shopping with a little one can be. My kid's go "Ma-ahm! Why do you always do that?" Just as my sister and I would always say " Da-ad!. . ." One of the greatest gifts passed on by my dad is the gift of "being neighborly".
Thanks for the positive reinforcement, John. And keep being "neighborly". It's a real healthy habit.

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