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The Chapters of Our Lives

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

I was driving down the road yesterday, dodging the slush and the ice when my mind wandered to someone I knew almost fifteen years ago. I wasn’t sure if I was amazed that it had been almost fifteen years since I last saw or spoke to them or that they had even crossed my mind to begin with. We didn’t part on bad terms. They moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and left no forwarding addresses or telephone number. It wasn’t like we were BFF’s. We just went our separate ways.

But it got me to thinking. That was a chapter in my life. It began and it ended. I learned something from the other person and I hope they learned something from me. My life has had a lot of chapters in it, some with happy endings some with sad endings and quite a few who are waiting for the endings to be written. Each chapter means something. It was like when you were little and you built with blocks, one stacked on top of the other. You couldn’t make a tower without the bottom block, or any of them for that matter. Bright and shiny, dull or chipped we need those blocks or we have no tower. We give value to each of our blocks or chapters in our lives.

Sometimes things are what they are and no more or no less. We stand on a scale and we create value or lack of value based on some digital numbers that course across the dial. We try on clothes and grin or grimace based on how well or poorly they fit us. We are not our weight. We are not a size 2, 4, 6, or 8 or whatever we aspire to be. We Are. We are as warm and as radiant and as beautiful as a winter snow, a spring thunderstorm, a summer sunset or the rustling of fall leaves at our feet.

When I was in first grade in Catholic grade school we had to memorize our catechism. I still remember one of the questions and answers.

“Why did God make you?”
“God made me to show forth His goodness.”

I have often thought about that chapter of my life and if I believed that exercise I never, ever would have needed anymore religious training period! I am beloved and loved. I am, as you are the greatest miracle in the world. Only recently did I start acting like I was that miracle.

So are you.

It’s not a scale, a diet or a calorie counter that determines my worth. It is the feeling I create inside of me that acknowledges that I am very special and worth the effort to make myself healthy and happy. I will not be loved more when I lose and additional sixty four pounds. My value will not increase when I reach my goal and head to Nashville to by a suit I have dreamed of. Those things are nice, but I am nicer.

Come closer so no one else hears:
So are you.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARCYNA 2/17/2010 8:52AM show forth His Goodness....He truly succeeded with you emoticon emoticon

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STORMTMB 2/17/2010 12:10AM

    Thanks for sharing, John.

Sometimes it's hard to focus on or remember what God thinks of us and how He gives us value when there are so many external forces on tv, print media, radio, ads everywhere telling us what we must have and look like to have value in our materialistic society. I need to remember where my true worth comes from. Thanks!


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WANDAH3 2/16/2010 6:45PM

    Wonderful Blog John. Very well said.


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STAN5FAM 2/16/2010 4:12PM

    Thanks John. You are sharing your Goodness through your thoughtful Blogs. Thanks for continuing to give and inspire!

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BIBLIOHOLIC57 2/16/2010 10:15AM

    Very inspiring, thoughtful blog. Thank you for sharing it.

Thank you also for your comment on my blog. It brightened my day enormously.

Have a wonderful week, and keep sharing!


emoticon emoticon

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YOYONOMORE1 2/16/2010 9:42AM

    Very inspiring blog, thank you for sharing your thoughts.


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BEANZFRD 2/16/2010 7:03AM

    Wonderful blog! Very well put. emoticon

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I Guess It Depends How You Look At It

Monday, February 15, 2010

I spend a lot of time hearing things and saying things and then just assuming that's the way they are. For example: "Everyone just dreads Monday morning!!!" or "TGIF!!!!" or "Tomorrow is hump day."Some of us let our moods be affected by a co worker, a boss, a neighbor or a partner. It's always about someone or something else, isnt it? The "diets" we are on do not work because we are different than other people. Exercise is for young athletes not fifty six year old warriors. It goes on and on.

I woke up this morning to snow. I'll admit the only time I like snow is from about noon Christmas Eve until about six pm on Christmas Day. Before and after that it should be seventy five and sunny all year round. I see snow and my mood darkens. We still have two daughters who live at home, ages 25 and 24. Last night they asked me if I could give them a ride into work if the roads were too bad. I woke up this morning and there were still clothes in the washer and dryer!!! The world was conspiring against me!!! It was going to be a rotten, nasty, horrible day. Damn, the fates!!!

I'm not sure where it came from, but it was a direct about face!!! I started thinking that the first sixty minutes of my day set the tone for the rest of my day. I began to wonder that if I was conscious of that could I condition myself to behave positively, every morning?

You might call it looking at the world through rose colored glasses or be a bit skeptical. I was too. I stood by the kitchen window and looked at the snow. It was still not quite yet light out and the more I looked at the snow, the more beautiful it became. Nothing had changed but me!!!

Am I on a diet or am I changing my life style to be healthy and live to torment my children at age ninety? Do I still get "scale fear" every Sunday morning before I weigh in? I am going to challenge myself to be a positive and as helpful as I can the first sixty minutes of my day. I want to have a "good day" everyday!!

I think, i'll call it a goal!!!!! Care to join me?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MARCYNA 2/17/2010 8:57AM

    Wow,if you were my dad, I'd love to torment you until 100 & over!!!!! emoticon

Comment edited on: 2/17/2010 9:05:29 AM

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AMYTATH 2/16/2010 10:24AM

    John, I love this!!! This is how I have tried to live for the past six months or so...I try not to let other people or events effect my mood for the day! I tell myself that "Its gonna be a good day!!!" and no matter what happens I try to keep that attitued! Its like a switch that flips when you finally come to that realization and start living like that, things finally become easier!!!

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TSISQUAUSDI 2/15/2010 8:15PM

    John, the only thing over which we have COMPLETE control is our own attitude. We can wake up in the morning and give that control to someone or something else, or we can choose to be happy - It's entirely up to us. I wake up and choose to be happy - It not only makes one heck of a difference in my day, but it confuses the bejesus out of people that just want to be miserable!

You're definitely on the right track! emoticon

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KATIEGLEN012 2/15/2010 2:07PM

    It is, indeed, our choice to carry whatever emotion we want into the day. Being positive just makes a better day. Way to go.

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STORMTMB 2/15/2010 12:16PM

    Way to turn it around, John! I'd be just as grumpy and I need to focus on being more positive all day long. Have a great day!


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WINDSTAR2358 2/15/2010 12:09PM

    Dishes in the sink, rides to work....ohhhhh my can I relate, I like you suddenly realized I was turning into a ugly old schrew! Especially when my attitude in itself was horrible, Then I was reading the SECRET, and I learned the only one who can insure change in me, is....dadaha....ME! Thanks for reminding me....

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CMBELISLE 2/15/2010 12:08PM

    Our moods definitely affect our outlook on the day. One reason I started enjoying my morning 10 (or 20) is because I feel better and have a better outlook on the day once I'm done. I can wake up tired and cranky, but then I'm over it (at least the cranky part) by the time I'm done.

Staying positive isn't always easy, but it is good for us.

BTW - I like the snow because of how peaceful everything looks and I can definitely envision the first morning's light just hitting the snow because I got to do that Saturday (while everyone else was still asleep).

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KNITSTRONG 2/15/2010 11:39AM

    I really enjoyed this post! I'm trying to be a more positive, less cynical person myself! Sometimes I still feel like I'm faking it, but at least we're both trying!

I'm also going to steal your idea about "living to torment your kids at 90". That will be one of my goals, too! I have the right genes, just need to get more healthy to improve my chances.

Take care! emoticon

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PSBURNETTE 2/15/2010 10:29AM

    Sounds like you already have it figured out. If I could pat you on the back I would! Thinking positivly has always been my motto! Hope you have a wonderful day!

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WANDAH3 2/15/2010 9:44AM

    John, I'm a true believer in starting each day (before even getting out of bed) with a positive attitude and positive affirmations. My day starts something like this: "Thank you Lord for another day of life, help me to be a positive person and positive influence in the lives of those that I meet today. Help me to appreciate all that comes my way. To be all that I have been created to be". And it goes on from there. As I stand in front of the mirror, I fill my spirit with positive affirmations, and on those days that I'm struggling just that little bit...I begin to sing "This is the day, this is the day, that the Lord hath made, that the Lord hath made. I will rejoice, I will rejoice and be glad in it, and be glad in it. This is the day, that the Lord hath made, I will rejoice and be glad in it, this is the day, this is the day that the Lord hath made."
It's really hard to feel negative after a few rounds of singing ! It's virtually impossible to hold negative and positive feelings at the same time!
Yep, when we start our day out on a positive note, the day just seems to go more smoothly. When those negatives do occur, it just seems easier to deal with them.

Have an enjoyable day. So many positives in your blog....your recognition of how starting your day from a positive place makes a difference, that your daughters turn to you as their "rock" when they are feeling uncertain, seeing the beauty in the snow and knowing that you've been given an opportunity to appreciate God's handiwork, to burn some extra calories as you shovel and to get outside and do something motivating for your mind, body and spirit.


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1WALKINGMAN 2/15/2010 9:05AM

    I am all for it. Let's look for that silver lining.

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CHANGEDIN09 2/15/2010 8:46AM

    I really needed this today. What a great post. CONGRATS on your success so far. I loved your comment about never taking the time to think or care about what you put into your mouth before. That is exactly what my problem WAS. Now I think about everything before and ask if it is worth the calories/fat to eat it. It has made a huge difference. Have a positive day!! emoticon

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    I love this idea! Maybe positivity is a habit that can be practiced and developed. Thank you!

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Sunday, February 14, 2010

For two months I feel like I have been taking, taking, taking. I gobble up a lot of blogs and digests and fitness postings and the like. Yet I have always had the feeling I am not really contributing anything to peoples continued improvement. But today I think I can.

I weighed in this morning. I lost 1.6 pounds this past week. For about thirty seconds I was really disappointed. I have been knocking off chunks of weight in the four to seven pound range every week. Nothing much seemed different, until I sat down and looked at the past week. Here are my findings:

1. I didnt get as much sleep as I normally do. Coupled with the stress of getting snowed in during my trip to WVA I didnt get my usual amount of sleep. I never felt totally rested all week.

2. Consequently I backed off on the intensity of my exercise. Oh, I still did my forty five minutes per day. But, there were three days that were just walking because I felt like I didn't have the energy to do more.

3. Because of my travel and weariness I ate out more this week than I have in two months. I stayed within calorie ranges but I felt all week like I was not eating the right stuff. I did take some food with me on my trip but two meals a day were with clients. I thought I made good choices. They could have been better.

Somewhat of a perfect storm.

Really good news. I am not depressed or unhappy or anything. I am glad I identified some areas where I need to concentrate on more. I am not down on myself. It's a new week and a new opportunity.

I am not moaning or complaining. That little voice in my head told me at church this morning "Let Go and Let God" That little voice is always right.

I am renewed

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CMBELISLE 2/14/2010 2:53PM

    It seems that sleep really is as important as the "experts" keep saying it is. I feel better today after my nap yesterday and know that I need to concentrate more on the week-night sleep.

As for the nutrition, some weeks are just that way - I had one myself this past week. I made some good choices and some bad choices, but I don't regret the choices I made. I enjoyed the pizza that I probably should not have had, but I also know that it is not something I have often. I also had a salad with it and measured the dressing so the olives weren't doing the backstroke.

Today is a new day with new choices to make. Today, I made it out for that walk and walked for almost an hour (almost 3 miles and it feels like it was all uphill). I also ate half the salmon that was served to me at lunch with broccoli and corn on the cob.

Keep up the great work and the great attitude. The journey is definitely as important as the destination.

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NICKI2B 2/14/2010 2:31PM

    You have no idea, do you? Your blogs have touched me numerous times! You remind me so much of my brother, every time I see your picture and read your blog I think of him. He is a minister of a small church in Oklahoma City, but he does so much more than that! He is always there and ministers in a dozen ways all the time. He is always helping someone and taking the time to care. People who are generous of spirit make a real difference in the world, I can only hope to be more like you and my brother! Thanks for being you!

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STORMTMB 2/14/2010 1:11PM

    Some weeks are just like that. Glad you were able to recognize the patterns. As you said, next week is a new week. Lots of opportunities abound! Have a good one!


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Two Months Of Spark Today: My Thoughts

Saturday, February 13, 2010

I found two months ago today. I wasn't looking for them. I had started tracking my food consumption and I was searching online for the elusive nutritional value of some item or another. I saw a small add on a web site off to the right in a corner. I clicked on it and as they say the rest is history.

I have lost right at 35 pounds in that two months and while I am very proud of that weight loss it is not the most important lesson I have learned (So far.) I learned that no matter what you do in life it is a lot easier if you do it with help and support and encouragement. I learned it's okay to be weak because if you really embrace your own weakness you learn a lot about yourself and how some times you just have to reach out and let people take care of you.

I read a lot of the blog postings every day written by people who have overcome real adversity in their lives and I am very humbled and motivated by their journey. I am fortunate that my life, to this point, has been relatively trouble free. My children and grandchildren are all healthy. My wife and I have been married for close to thirty six years and we have had a pretty normal marriage. We agree on a lot of things, we disagree on a lot of other things. She's Irish and I'm Polish so it makes for some pretty drama filled argument's at times. Other than a bit of blood pressure issue and a little bit of arthritis, our health is good. We are blessed with family and friends. I'm not trying to sound like a Hallmark Greeting card. We're just normal. Our cars break down, our furnace ocasionally needs repair and we get toothaches in the middle of the night that cause us to go running to the dentist.

I have been blessed by having my family's support these past two months. My wife has never fussed or gotten angry about my weight. She has always showed concern, asked what she could do to help and been way more patient then I would have been. She is happy that I am happier and glad she can"put her arms around me." My children, on the other hand remarked they dont like the fact that there is "no junk to eat," when they come over.

I really believe in angels. I do not believe they are winged creatures with blond hair dressed in bleached white robes. I believe they are you guys, my Spark Friends who I know along with my family are there every single day to offer encouragement and support. There are so many of you!! And I believe each of you was sent by God.

I learned I am fat (I know it's not the politically correct term, it's just simply the truth!) because my eating and exercise habits were sloppy. I never took the time to look at what went in my mouth and pretty much gave control to my exercise habits to a tight schedule that allowed no room for health. All that being said, telling yourself the truth is tough at first but gosh when you see results, it doesnt sting too badly.

Thank you my friends. That's what I have learned in two months. I owe a lot of people a sincere debt of gratitude.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRIPLE_EMME 2/17/2010 10:32AM


Congrats on reaching your two-month Sparkversary! Continue to keep living your best -- you are making a huge difference in your life and the lives of your Sparkfriends.

Thank you for being a motivator!

Comment edited on: 2/17/2010 10:32:30 AM

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AUNTLYNNARD 2/17/2010 9:40AM

    emoticonNamaste' my friend, The Divine in me recognizes and salutes the Divine in you. I have found inspiration in your words this morning. We are privileged to have found Spark People to help us on our journey. I am also privileged to have found your blog on a morning when I am filled with doubt that I possess what I need to face another day when I am not losing weight! May your life be filled with Peace & Abundance as you give the most unsuspecting reader strength for their own journey. Again, Namaste', ~Lynn emoticon

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KATIEGLEN012 2/13/2010 10:03PM

    I look forward to your show such sensitivity. You are doing a great job on weight and motivating the rest of us. Keep up the good work.

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AIDENSMAMAW 2/13/2010 8:57PM

    I really enjoyed your blog. I am new on here and love it. I havent met many people but the blogs are encouraging and the tools are awesome. emoticon

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TOOFATPIA 2/13/2010 8:22PM

    You are so inspirational. Toothaches in the middle of the night emoticon yeah I know those all too well or kids tummy aches. Wow you really always seem to be sitting in the room with me when I read your posts.
You really are doing great with your weight loss and even more than that. You are really doing wonderful with the healthy lifestyle. Keep up the good work. You are such a warrior for so many.

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WANDAH3 2/13/2010 7:29PM

    From one normal person to another....WE ROCK! Way to go John on being such an inspiration.


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PSBURNETTE 2/13/2010 5:14PM

    I love your blog. I to am normal. I have weaknesses like everyone else. I love sparkpeople. This has helped me out a lot. I am so glad you are doing great. I wish you continued success! I think it is helping me to help encourage someone else. You are not alone! You can do this.

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1WALKINGMAN 2/13/2010 3:24PM

    emoticonon your success to date John. You are doing so well. I am proud of what you have been able to accomplish in just two months and in the example and encouragement that you are. emoticon

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YOYONOMORE1 2/13/2010 2:54PM

    You are doing so good, you should be very proud of how far you've come in two months. Keep up the good work and sharing your success with us, as that motivates us.


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MOTHERLORI 2/13/2010 1:23PM

    Amen! I've found tools, information and inspiration here ~ but most of all, I've found a support system of people who know what I'm going through. Not all of it, but a lot of it. They offer encouragement and support whether I've had a good day or a bad day. It never ceases to amaze me that someone almost always comments on my blog ~ different people ~ it's wonderful! SO CONGRATS to you John ~ I wish you an amazing journey! Lori emoticon

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Reaching Out: A Challenge of Sorts

Friday, February 12, 2010

I ran into my friend Angus at the grocery last night. We hadn't talked in close to six months. Angus is the youth minister at one of our local churches and the most unassuming down to earth ministers I have ever met. (That's a lot for a Catholic to say about a Southern Baptist, trust me!!) A few years back Angus was going to leave our city because he had received an offer to become a youth minister at a larger church in another state. He had accepted the offer. A week before he and his family were supposed to depart he took three of his four children camping with some close friends. His wife and his daughter remained home to pack. On Saturday evening his wife went to bed and never woke up. They were high school sweethearts. Like everyone who knew him I went to the funeral and said "all the right stuff." The place was packed.

I didnt see Angus again for a few months. When you dont know what to say you tend to avoid people and they avoid you and then you both avoid being awkward. I do recall what he said to me, though. He told me he was grateful for all the support during and immediately after the funeral. He wished some of those people were still in touch. He told me then, that it was "now" that he needed friends when everything seemed so gray and he felt so alone.

I thought of Angus this morning or rather his situation. I "huddled" with some of my Spark Teams and happened to read the blog of a person who had, well they had given up. Tired of exercising, tired of being a slave to the scale, just plain old tired and would rather be obese, because at least they could get some peace. The person felt guilty because they had just given up and was really looking for some support, someone in their gray day to rally around them and say "Hang in there, we are all with you."

Before today I didnt know this person from Adam. Wasn't one of my buddies or network. What I told them was that I felt miserable and sore this morning and was about to say I wasn't going to work out. After I read what they wrote, in their misery and agony they motivated me to at least walk for an hour today and hopefully some of the cramps in my legs will subside. I hope in a way I let them know there is someone out here for them. I encouraged them and told them there were millions of people just like them. We ALL understood their plight.

So here is my challenge to you this bright and beautiful Friday morning:

Take some extra time today if you can and look for a Spark Person you do not know that may be struggling and just share part of yourself. It's easy to support friends and buddies who think like we do.

Maybe, just maybe, me and you can be the big difference in someone elses life and sanity today.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TOOFATPIA 2/13/2010 8:29PM

    Thank you, I am going to try more to help I also know along the way when you give of yourself it helps you too.
this is one challenge I will definetly work on

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KATIEGLEN012 2/13/2010 5:45AM

    Always...our words make a difference. Encouragement and appreciation...there is never too much of that in our lives!

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JUSTLYLE 2/12/2010 10:48AM

    Another great blog John, much good advice there.
Skeeter emoticon

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STORMTMB 2/12/2010 10:06AM

    You're so right. We have more in common with people than we think. Sometimes it just takes a little work to find those commonalities.

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CMBELISLE 2/12/2010 9:52AM

    I think I just did that with the same person, but I'll look around and see who else might need a kind word and a gentle reminder that they are not alone.

BTW - I got to read your other blog this morning and shared it with the hubby. It made him think of a couple of things that have happened in the last few years that have made us really think about things. We like road trips and twice now we've missed great photo ops because we just wanted to keep moving forward - we have to remind ourselves to just stop or turnaround and get that picture instead of continuing to just drive. Some things just don't come together like that with the perfect lighting and perfect amount of fog very often. Perfection can be really hard to come by and when it happens you really should take advantage of it.

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WANDAH3 2/12/2010 9:41AM

    Thank you John for sharing this. I'm on my way to do some encouraging.


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STAN5FAM 2/12/2010 9:12AM

    Thanks John. You always blog when I jump on the comp in the morning. Your words are always inspiring. Hope you had a nice walk. emoticon

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DALAI_LALA 2/12/2010 9:10AM

    What an excellent thought! Thank you for posting...

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1WALKINGMAN 2/12/2010 8:54AM

    Thanks John emoticon

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