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Using My Talent's

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How much time do I spend focusing on using my talent to make this a better place to live?

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SILLYHP1953 7/17/2011 1:29PM

    Oh my...alright, I'll dig up my talents.

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LYNMEINDERS 7/10/2011 7:40PM

    Absolutely brilliant as always....
Love the way you looked at that parable and loved the challenge even more....

Thankyou so have so much wisdom.....

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NAMAARI 7/10/2011 7:28PM

    Your last comments reminds me of this passage...

Matthew 6

25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

God wants our focus to be Him, to be living a life full of love and truth, and that would include caring for our bodies, our life, which is a gift, but also investing in others, helping, loving, giving, doing whatever we can to shine love. Thanks for such a good reminder to spend our lives on the things that matter and watch our investment of our talents, our love, grow. Blessings, friend.

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MIZZSB 7/10/2011 4:50PM

    WOW this is heavy John.. thanks for sharing...
And my treasure is my health, and for today i have to say NO...
but tomorrow is another day...

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CMA444 7/10/2011 10:20AM

    Awesome! That is one of my favorite parables! Thank you for putting it into a new light!

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GRACIOUSGRAPE 7/10/2011 10:19AM

    John, another excellent blog! You also gave me something to think about and work on each day. It is true that we will find balance in our lives when we concentrate outwardly on others and how WE can make a difference in the little world around us, rather than on ourselves. But it is true that we need to be able to care for ourselves in order to accomplish that. Our bodies are Temples and we need to treat it with reverence. It houses our SPIRIT, which is what makes each of us unique, and able to carry out God's plan for us here on earth. Thank you for starting my Sunday morning on a high note.

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SPARKENISTA 7/10/2011 10:12AM


This is a universal tale and, as usual, very inspirational. There is a lot to think about here.



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HDHAWK 7/10/2011 9:29AM

    You give of yourself regularly here on Spark. Your talent to put into words what many of us are thinking helps me immensely. I hope you realize that!

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TERRIPAL1 7/10/2011 9:12AM

    Well done John!! You gave me something to think about again!! emoticon


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_AIYANNA_ 7/10/2011 9:10AM

    I couldn't agree with you more, John. We often complain about how we live in a selfish world and there's no community spirit left any more. Still, very seldom do we stand back and consider what WE have done or offered to make this world a better place.

Thank you for giving me something to work on :)

Take care,
Elen xxx

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The Philosophy of My Flower Bed

Friday, July 08, 2011

We have a long narrow flower bed that wraps around one corner of our privacy fence. For whatever reason, every weed known to man has decided to root in it. Yesterday morning I decided it was time to clear the bed out, once and for all.

I pulled the old flowers out; a quick tug at their base neatly removed them. Then came the weeds. I have a lot of strength in my arms but after five minutes of tugging and almost falling face first into the dirt I went to the garage looking for some garden tools. They worked on about eighty percent of the weeds. There were still these long tendrils of grass snaking past the border stones and I swear were actively resisting me as I pulled, dug and mildly cursed them. This meant war.

I removed all the border stones and stacked them in a wheel barrow. I went in the house and put on my work boots, the ones with the steel toes. It’s eighty degrees outside, I’m sweating my face, arms and legs are streaked with dirt and Joan is giving me one of those “Oh Lord, what are you doing now” looks. I grabbed a spade from the garage and dug down deep in the flower bed. I suspect I had somewhat of a maniacal grin on my face believing I had out witted those snickering weeds once and for all. I chopped the dirt up and sifted through it yanking out the remaining weeds. I found the rake and smoothed the soil. Everything was neat and symmetrical. I was as proud as proud could be. I asked Joan to come see. She stood there for a minute or so and said “Okay, what are you planning on putting in there?”

“Well that’s not the point. All the weeds are gone.”

“I know John but so is everything else. What are we going to put in there?”

Okay so maybe she was right. But, as I told her much later in the day, I had time to reflect on how my life is like that flower bed. So very often I let those marvelous flowers that are my talents and treasures become over run and crowded out by my own fears and doubts about my abilities. After a while all I see are the weeds and slowly my talents, the REAL John, get starved out. My doubts rob all the oxygen and sunlight and I lose sight of my goals!!! In other words I’m a mess.

Spark people and you my dear wonderful friends are those garden tools that ferret out the weeds and provide me the fertile soil to grow and make the life style changes that are necessary for the real John to flourish and reach his goals and dreams. Once cleared away, all those bad habits allow the sunlight of success to shine on my life.
Down deep are the things I’d never seen, noticed or believed before. They were hidden by everything else. Those weeds, those tough tendrils of grass, hang on tight and fight my forward progress. They require a lot of perseverance and stamina and I have to dig deep. It’s often painful when you realize you are the real root of all your issues. When all is said and done there is new fertile soil for John to grow It’s mucho hard work!!!

I grinned proudly!

“That’s nice John, but you still haven’t told me what we are planting.”

And so go’s the philosophy of my flower bed.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKLISE 7/10/2011 8:51PM

    It takes you to see yourself in a garden! emoticon emoticon

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GRACIOUSGRAPE 7/10/2011 10:23AM

    Another excellent blog, John! You certainly are a wonderful garden tool for me! You help me to focus and grow, looking at all of life from a beautiful perspective. So glad you are my friend and mentor!

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COUCHDIVA333 7/9/2011 10:43PM

emoticon emoticon emoticon

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ANATASHIKI 7/9/2011 2:49PM

    so?what are you planting? flowers or vegetables? emoticon
emoticon emoticon kori

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GRAMLORI 7/9/2011 10:09AM

    "Everything was neat and symmetrical."

Do I detect a somewhat anal personality there? lol That's ok, so am I! If I'm a garden tool, then I must be the shovel....I have someone stepping on me and shoving me into the dirt, but I hit rock everytime!! Getting it from both sides!! lol

Enjoy your season of planting!!

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GEEMAWEST 7/8/2011 10:49PM

    I have given my DH that “Oh Lord, what are you doing now” look many times.

When you think about pulling up all your "weeds" just remember that weeds to one person are flowers to another. It's all in how you look at them.

Hugs, G-Ma

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HDHAWK 7/8/2011 10:17PM

    Cool John! You never cease to amaze me!

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SANDYJAS 7/8/2011 9:54PM

    Beautiful thought

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CARTOONB 7/8/2011 8:56PM

    LOL! I like Joan!

BTW...if we're your garden tools, can I be the hoe? emoticon

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SRHALLIN 7/8/2011 8:35PM

    Such an excellent story! And so applicable to the lives of others as well. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

And, congratulations on clearing out your flower bed. :)

Best wishes to you on your journey!

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LYNMEINDERS 7/8/2011 8:00PM

    Again a fabulous thought provoking blog.....
So true that we forget about the flowers/talents we have and focus too much on the "weeds" in our lives....
Thankyou for the thought provoking...
Much appreciated

Comment edited on: 7/8/2011 8:00:35 PM

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    You have me feeling like I need to get outside and get busy. LOL. Some of those tap roots are as tall as me. LOL.

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WALKAWAY 7/8/2011 2:24PM

    Love this blog. Reminds me that I just have to dig deep and get all the "trash" out of the way to see who I am, what I can become.

Just remember to stop, smell the flowers and LOL occasionally hack the heck out of the pesky weeds.

emoticon emoticon

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RONDAJONES 7/8/2011 2:08PM

    I just LOVE how you have this supernatural talent to show me gently how our lives are somewhat parallel. Keep writing...because I keep reading!! Oh, and thank you! I sooooo need to work on my weeds!

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SILLYHP1953 7/8/2011 1:22PM

    This must be why I almost enjoy weeding. I enjoy planting and tending better, but I do enjoy weeding. I enjoy the transformation, the accomplishment. Crabgrass is my nemesis, it's probably the same one you were talking about with those running roots. It sounds like you got quite a workout, too. So...what are you planting?
emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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GETFIT2LIVE 7/8/2011 1:00PM

    What a coincidence! I was doing weeding in my flower beds on the 4th and had similar reflections on my own life while I was sweating my way through them. We have to dig deep to pull out the toughest weeds (both literally and in our lives) to make room for new things as well as give the existing beauty room to grow. Let the weeds go too long and everything good is crowded out by them--and it becomes much harder to pull them up because they are rooted so firmly. Have a good weekend, and go plant something beautiful!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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RACINGSLUG 7/8/2011 12:42PM

    Your flower bed is very wise, indeed. ;) I'm so glad we are here helping each other pull out those weeds. emoticon

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JANC7223 7/8/2011 12:08PM

    What a great analogy.

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MARTELLA3 7/8/2011 11:15AM

    I am so glad that you referred to the "real John" as the one who has all the talents and treasures. That other John that fears and doubts, even though in the past he has served a purpose, you do not need anymore.

Grow on! emoticon


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GIRANIMAL 7/8/2011 10:44AM

    I love Joan! emoticon

Why, oh why, is it so much easier to focus on the "dark side" -- the fears and our so-called negative traits -- than it is to see our "good sides"?

Great analogy, John! I love your ability to extrapolate your everyday activities into representations of your personality and tendencies. I hope you clearly see the growing, flourishing, beautiful you in those new flowers you're going to plant for Joan. emoticon

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MUSTANG_SALLY2 7/8/2011 10:41AM

    LOL I just love Joan.

I too have lots of grass in the flower bed of my life. Habits that I'm struggling to rip out but have not quite accomplished it yet. I haven't given up.

I love you blogs! Have a great weekend!


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Finding The Promised Land

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Moses led the people of Israel out of Egypt on a forty year journey to the Promised Land. I found out recently that entire journey, the one that took over forty years to complete should have only taken three month by foot. Instead, Moses, the rock star of the Old Testament led a group of people around in circles for over forty years. They were lost. You have no idea how relieved I felt inside when I read that article. A month from today, I’ll have been wondering around looking for my own Promised Land for fifty eight years.

Where is your Promised Land and who lives there? When Moses left Egypt it was to escape tyranny and oppression. All that quickly changed when there was no food and water. People grumbled and complained and on more than one occasion Moses role as leader of this motley crew were in jeopardy. All of a sudden those mean old Egyptians weren’t so bad. At least they had a full belly three times a day. So Moses had to detour and find food and water. Moses persevered and I think his faith, that eventually he’d complete his mission had solely to do with trust.

God picked Moses to lead this mission. He told him he was capable and competent. Moses trusted what he saw and felt. If you read the book of Exodus you’ll see he made more than one mistake and had more than one false start along the way. He was applauded and reviled sometimes all on the same day. He kept moving forward. Sometimes moving forward meant looking over a hill or around a blind corner and Moses simply had to trust his feelings, his gut and his instincts. He believed he was doing the right thing.

How many times do we find ourselves searching for that Promised Land of health only to have the people around us second guess, ridicule or even make jokes about us? I have struggled the last few months. I have gained about fifteen pounds. That’s all on me, no excuses. What startled me were the people who wisely nodded their heads and told me they knew I could never keep the weight off. (You think they would have had the courtesy to talk behind my back!!!) Joan told me to focus on what I’d done, get back on track and not to worry. I did and do, LOL.

I think of Moses often. I think of him wandering through the hot desert and hearing all the criticism drift up towards him as he tried to figure a way home for his people. He got side tracked, he got lost, but he never gave up. I won’t either. It took forty years for him to get there and during that time I am sure he learned a lot about life and himself.

No matter who questions your motivation your abilities or your worth and desire, firmly put your hand on your own staff of life, trust your instincts and one day, maybe today, just over the next small rise is your Promised Land.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LORSI2000 7/9/2011 1:50PM

    Joan is a hoot! Why don't you keep her after all! emoticon

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GIRANIMAL 7/7/2011 11:07PM

    I've said it before -- it's not a race! And it's really not even about the goal, but the journey. (Awesome - that was like 3 cliches in one! LOL)

But, as I recently heard Wayne Dyer say, we cling to those cliches because there is such resonant truth in them. 40 years or 40 minutes -- does it really matter in the end?

You've lost way more than 15 pounds and can lick it again - and then some. As for the people I-told-you-soing, someone I respect recently pointed out to me that our success makes other people have to look hard at themselves, and they get nasty when they feel threatened. Jealous, in a sense. So listen to that brilliant, beautiful wife of yours!

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TERRIPAL1 7/7/2011 12:24PM

    Well said !! Hope we all find it together emoticon

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SILLYHP1953 7/7/2011 10:11AM

    Today is my one year spark anniversary and I've wandered around a lot during this past year. Not exactly lost, cause I knew the right way, I just wasn't going in that direction. I have managed to keep 10 pounds off, and they will stay off, but I had lost more than 10 this year. Thanks for this blog and your interpretation of Moses' helped.

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LYNMEINDERS 7/6/2011 7:37PM

    This story is an awesome depiction of our journey with weight loss....
I ran a program for 7 years....(thats before I forgot the principles and put my weight back on) it was something i got out of America called the Weighdown Workshop.....Exodus out of Egypy....
It's really amazing what Scripture says about food and eating....
Love this story.. so relevant to our journey

Comment edited on: 7/6/2011 7:37:55 PM

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MIZZSB 7/6/2011 2:39PM

    John great to read you are getting (slowly) back on track.. you can do this.
And Joan is a awesome lady!!!

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MARCYNA 7/6/2011 1:21PM

    Great parallel, thanks for sharing!!!
In the end they made it, whatever the lenght of the effort and I think in the same way we are to lead our people -sparkers, friends, family- to their own Holy Land emoticon

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KKINNEA 7/6/2011 11:39AM

    Great comparison.

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GRAMLORI 7/6/2011 11:06AM

    Kinda reminds me of the little kitten picture that seems to be smiling with its little eyes closed as the caption reads:

"Lord, if you can't make me thin, at least make my friends fat!"

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PGNBRI 7/6/2011 10:44AM


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SPARKLISE 7/6/2011 10:41AM

    Another great blog. Gotta tell ya,i feel like i'm in a desert right now and i can't see the end. emoticon
But, if it took Moses 40 years,maybe i can be patient a little longer. emoticon

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HDHAWK 7/6/2011 10:34AM

    I think our friends are relieved when we gain the weight back. It makes them feel better. I'm on track to lose the weight again. I can't count how many of my friends told me I'd gotten too thin when I lost the weight the first time. Jealousy? Hey, they can put in the work it takes and do it too. Keep on keeping on John!

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RUN4FOOD 7/6/2011 10:30AM

    Thanks for sharing this story and building it around the life of Moses and God's people. We all need God's guidance. Sometimes people can be a real pain. Most people can and will be very helpful if you ask. Just like you put your thoughts into this blog and all of these people responded with their love. I've learned to look to God for support first and then to others who love me, often in spite of myself and often when I don't feel I deserve any love. God and God through others can lead the way for us.
Great blog.

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    Most successful dieters do have a blip on their screen from time to time or, to put it your way, they get lost in the desert. But they do find their way back out and you will as well. You can't always be perfect. There is no perfect. You will fail sometimes and what will make you successful is not allowing failure to become an ingrained habit. It's a lifelong journey and even when you think you have arrived you have to work to stay out of the desert.

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C55R55 7/6/2011 10:04AM

  Interestingly enough, despite the uncertainties or possibilities, or what seems an impossibility, Moses maintained his close relationship with God. In our stillness, meditation or prayer, etc., we can connect in the same way and the voice guides our path, which is at the center of our core. We too are directed as Moses was by that voice. This story is a great reminder to listen, be assured and courageous on the journey to the promised land. Great inspirational Bible story!

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MUSTANG_SALLY2 7/6/2011 9:56AM

    I love Moses's story. Always have. I loved that even though he didn't believe in himself, God did and that was enough to make Moses at least attempt the goal.

People shock and amaze me nearly every day. I cannot imagine how you handled someone saying that to you. The funny thing is, that healthy, so called normal people gain and lose weight all the time. My problem was that I kept gaining and gaining and didn't attempt to lose any of it to balance out my life. You will do fine. God (and I) believe in you. You know what to do and you know when and how to do it. Enjoy the journey John, it's our best part.


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IFDEEVARUNS2 7/6/2011 9:49AM

    The thing is, Moses led them to the promised land, but never entered himself. Oops, just read that WORKINGSTIFF wrote the same thing.
If his goal was to lead his people out of Egypt and to the promised land, he was a success, whether he actually made it himself or not. I guess this is another case of it being about the journey.

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KATHRYN1955 7/6/2011 9:42AM

    I think that "Promised Land" has always been deep inside of us, we just have to peel away the layers (emotionally and physically, and in that order). Any so-called setbacks are actually life lessons that we are meant to learn. And they will keep appearing in various forms until we finally "get it."
Take care,
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CMA444 7/6/2011 9:34AM

    I can so relate to this! How awesome you put it out for everyone to read! Don't listen to those who don't have faith in you. Especially yourself. When you tell yourself you can't do it, believe that you can. Know you can. Pray to God for his guidance and he will give it to you.


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NASFKAB 7/6/2011 9:23AM


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WORKINGSTIFF 7/6/2011 9:20AM

    The thing about Moses was that he never really entered "the promised land." He got so far, but never actually crossed the river into the land promised to his people. Ironic.

But that is the thing about our journey. We look for "the promised land" that everyone seeks, but in actuality, like Moses, we can get there anyway.

I believe Moses went to heaven after he died, which is the ultimate promised land. We can also achieve that which we as individuals may not be the same as the guy next to us, but we can find it.

It's in the mind of the individual to find the goal. Our OWN goal-not someone else's.

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Oh My Gosh, I'm Walking On Water

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

One of my favorite Bible passages has to do with the apostle Peter walking on water or shall I say failing to walk on water. The story goes that after a long day of preaching, teaching and answering questions, Jesus went off by himself to pray and the apostles went out in the boat to fish. A storm comes up and Jesus heads back to the boat. The problem is the boat is in the middle of the lake. Jesus starts to walk on the water towards the boat. To use today’s vernacular the apostles freaked out. I can quite imagine the conversation in that boat. “Do you think it’s him?’ “I dunno you know him better than I do!”

Peter is my favorite apostl because we are so much alike. We are both people pleasers, over achievers and quite often engage our mouths and actions long before our brains have had time to mull things over. Anytime something needed to be done Peter would push his way to the front of the group and boldly say he could do it, would do it and BTW: would you like fries with that burger. Bearing all that in mind Peter comes up with a game plan of sorts. He yells out, “Hey if you’re REALLY Jesus you’ll let me walk on water also!!”

Peter stands up and gets out of the boat and begins walking on water. “Hey it is you!” I can quite imagine, given what we know about Peter’s personality, that he was styling and profiling, until the wind kicks up, it rains a bit harder and it dawns on Peter “Oh my gosh, I’m walking on water!!!” Realizing he is eons out of his comfort zone he starts to sink. If not for Jesus bailing him out Peter might be simply a soggy foot note in Bible history. Jesus tells Peter if he had faith he could have walked on water. He didn’t yell, scream or berate. He didn’t talk about everlasting salvation and the like. He told Peter if he believed he could do it.

Does any of this sound familiar? It does to me. Just about the time I racking up a string of successes in my life, this small voice reminds me that I am doing things I’d never, ever dreamed of doing before and then asks me if I really think I belong sitting at the cool kids lunch table? That’s when I start feeling the water on my ankles and calves. Can you say “glub, glub?” Completely and totally out of my comfort zone, I give up and go back to the mediocrity I know and love so well.

When I sit down and think about it I find that it’s in every aspect of my life. When I start becoming healthy and toned and actually resemble something other than a Rogaine add with frosty the snow man, I freak. That’s not me!!! I do not belong here!!! Glub, glub. I once ran five miles, all at once, just a few months ago. I’ve never run that far again!!! Too far out of my comfort zone to do it again. That’s not ME.

Every time I get close to being a complete and total success I suddenly realize “OH MY GOSH, I’M WALKING ON WATER!!” The remedy is faith, faith in me and in my abilities. The saying goes that you can’t help a drowning person who is struggling. The more I fight the notion that my Creator created me to be a complete and total success, the more comfortable I’ll be the next time I walk on water, or at least the puddle in my drive way.

I am worth it. I deserve it. I am what I believe I am, and I am who I hang around with, aren’t I?


  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IAMDARLENE 7/10/2011 12:12AM


Your writing is fantastic!! You've said this so well. I'm almost ready to walk on water too!!

Thanks so much! Darlene

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GAL7288 7/7/2011 4:28PM

    That was really an inpiration to me, I often convince or let others convince myself that I can't even when I know I can. But it's an eye opener when you see it this way.

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SILLYHP1953 7/7/2011 10:19AM

    Well, well, well...I have a better understanding now of why I self-sabotage. You have such a succinct (haven't used that word for a while, had to use spell check) and entertaining way of explaining concepts.

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REJ7777 7/7/2011 6:28AM

    Great blog! emoticon

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DAD2GETFIT 7/6/2011 10:00PM

    Walk on! emoticon

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MARTELLA3 7/6/2011 10:17AM

    It makes a big difference whose voice we listen to. Do we listen to the Good Shepherd, Who only wants our good, or the father of lies who wants to kill steal and destroy us? I regret to report that I frequently listen to the lies.

Thank you John for your thoughts. It has been a needed catalyst for me.


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AKATUJE 7/6/2011 10:10AM

    Blogs like this remind me why i like you so much, you are an older male version of me!!! Every time i read your blogs i see me in them. And you say it in ways i can only dream of thinking....... emoticon

Thank you for sharing!!!

p.s. Peter is my absolute favorite disciple. He shares the #1 spot overall with David.

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WALKIETALKIE 7/6/2011 3:01AM

    Been there. Done that. Got the T-shirt. Glub glub. emoticon

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CARTOONB 7/5/2011 11:08PM

    Yay! Keep on walking!

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LYNMEINDERS 7/5/2011 11:05PM can certainly walk on water......we just need to believe and we can do anything

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KIKOOMAGOO 7/5/2011 6:46PM

    So many times I have gotten close to doing something and allow doubt to derail me. I feel like this time I have enough faith in me to walk on water right beside you and all my sparkbuddies. I'm not allowing others or myself to put doubt in my path.

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GIRANIMAL 7/5/2011 6:04PM

    Louise Hay or Abraham or somebody has used examples of people getting what they want and then continually exclaiming, "Oh my gosh, I can't believe it!" until it evaporated from whence it came -- and then they would say things like, "See? I knew it was too good to be true!"

Belief is so much in life. Yes, this DOES sound familiar! I make an effort to correct my "I can't believe it" thinking as soon as possible these days and hope that it's quick enough! emoticon

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TERRIPAL1 7/5/2011 5:44PM

    Nice blog !! You are so right ,that goes for everything you do!! We are all so special & if we don't stop to think about it we'll eventually figure it out!! emoticon

Keep walking on water John & I'll try it soon too!!

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ANATASHIKI 7/5/2011 4:48PM

    so delete your old you , rewrite an update : ) . walk on water? I want to fly , i want to teleport !forget about that "me" you used to know. think you wake up with amnesia one day and reinvent yourself!

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JUNEAU2010 7/5/2011 4:14PM

    emoticon you inspired me!

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PGNBRI 7/5/2011 12:00PM

    Oh my goodness! I had this same thought process this weekend! How it seems that every time I notice how well I'm doing and how much I've accomplished all it seems to achieve is causing me to fall. I kept thinking that if I could just keep from noticing how well I'm doing, I could do anything! LOL.

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C55R55 7/5/2011 11:43AM

  Got to love that Peter! Beliefs can be self sabatoging! You're doing great with the reshaping and retraining of those beliefs. Just like Jesus tried to teach Peter, over and over, you always belonged at the cool kids lunch table ;) Thanks for the reminder John!

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HAPPYSOUL91 7/5/2011 11:24AM

    Excellent and also I got quite a chuckly on "“OH MY GOSH, I’M WALKING ON WATER", I sure have been there

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WALKNLOVE 7/5/2011 11:14AM


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MIZZSB 7/5/2011 10:54AM

    you are not alone in this one,i am there many times...

Have faith in yourself! You are worth this!

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RACINGSLUG 7/5/2011 10:53AM

    Peter was always my favorite apostle too. So desperate to please and yet so insecure about his own abilities. I can relate to your feeling here... It's hard not to retreat into mediocrity out of pure anxiety. Recently with my therapist and my coaches at the Center for Progressive Leadership we've been working on just this thing... living the life you want to live despite the fear or anxiety or whatever unpleasant feeling held you back before. The truth is, some negative feelings are going to be there no matter what - we can let them limit us or we can let them teach us how to respond with vitality and grace. It's a terrifying and exhilarating feeling, realizing the only thing holding us back is ourselves.

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SKHENDRIX 7/5/2011 10:47AM

    Thank you!

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JECKIE 7/5/2011 10:25AM

    Definitely not alone! I actually said aloud yesterday "Oh my God I'm graduating in 8 weeks!" in a completely freaked out, what-do-I-do-now tone. It's scary! And the only way I hold it together fitness-wise is to realize I'm doing this with all the folks from this site. My friends keep me going because my faith in myself alone is not strong enough.

We'll reach out a hand when the water starts lapping!

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JSPIN74 7/5/2011 10:22AM

    Your not alone with these feelings & reactions...this is so me too (a lot of us I suspect;)

...thx for putting it out there for solidarities sake as weel as your own.

We are cool kids & we can walk on water.

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NASFKAB 7/5/2011 10:19AM

  Thanks great thoughtful blog

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GRAMLORI 7/5/2011 10:13AM

    And if we would just reach up for the hand of Jesus, we wouldn't have to say "glub glub" at all, would we! He always has a lot more confidence in us than we do. As a popular Christian song says, "Give me Your eyes, Lord". Not only to see others, but to see the beauty God sees in ourselves as well!

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DEE797 7/5/2011 10:12AM

    What a great blog and it comes at a good time for me, cause I've been struggling lately. Thanks for sharing it with us.

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SAMDJS 7/5/2011 10:06AM

    A big part of our success in life - whatever we set out to do - is our attitude. And you definitely put our attitudes into perspective here.

I needed this...thanks!

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KATHRYN1955 7/5/2011 9:12AM

    This reminds me so much of that quote By Marianne Williamson. I have included it below and as I reread it, I know that I, too, am afraid of walking on water. The only consolation is that rather than going back to the beginning each time, that I am very slowly moving ahead, in a much zigzag fashion!

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."
By Marianne Williamson

Keep the faith,
emoticon emoticon emoticon

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TIME4AFITME 7/5/2011 9:03AM

    I love this blog! Thank you so needed it!

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HDHAWK 7/5/2011 8:57AM

    I love this blog John! It really hits home.

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Odds and Ends: Aspartame, Caffeine and Blue Agave Nectar

Friday, July 01, 2011

It’s hard to believe that it will be close to two months since I had a diet soda. Mercifully I have entered that stage where I don’t even think about it. I can be in the same room with a bottle of diet Coke without allowing it to seduce me. I still have one rather nasty side effect. My thighs, both quads and hamstrings and my hips cramp very easily. My doctor could find nothing wrong. She told me I “probably pulled a muscle.” Hmmmm, both hips and both legs? That’s one heck of a pull. I’m not fortunate enough to live in an area that offers integrative medicine so I have to rely on the internet. My wise wife of thirty seven years suggested that some of the aspartame was stored in my fat cells and was producing the distress. I researched it. She was correct. According to the three or four articles I read, Aspartame withdrawal can cause moderate to severe cramping in the hip and thigh area. Here is the scary part: The substance your fat cells produces is formaldehyde!!! The pains can last anywhere from two to six weeks. I am in week three and believe I am over the hump. The pain gets less each day and I can ride my bike. Stairs are still a bit of a challenge. My loving wife with her ever present sense of humor said. “Well look at it this way, your one of the few living people who is embalmed and living!!!”

Last Tuesday, eight days ago to be specific, I stopped using caffeine in my diet. This is not as daunting as it may seem, I am not a coffee drinker and with the soda gone, I was down to one huge McDonalds un- sweet iced tea in the morning. I decided that was my next step. It’s been eight days and all I am drinking is water. I’m at the point where every now and then I want something with a bit of taste top it so I squirt some lemon or lime juice in my water.

I have begun using organic blue agave nectar as a sweetener. It is a low glycemic sweetener so it absorbs into your body at a slow rate. The end results are no sugar spikes. I have been having berries, blue, black or strawberries with each meal and putting about one half of a tea spoon of blue agave on them. Since Tuesday evening when I began I have noticed I am not having any strong sugar cravings or carb cravings for that matter. One tablespoon has sixty calories and this stuff is so sweet I can’t imagine anyone using more than a tablespoon at three meals!!! It is the substance tequila is made from. Talk about an endorsement, huh?

Finally, about two weeks ago I wrote a blog concerning my granddaughter and her “silly hat.” I’ve posted a picture below.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARKENISTA 7/4/2011 11:16AM

    John--We haven't been in touch for a while. I had no idea that Aspartame was so damaging. I don't drink much soda but I shovel it into my coffee. As far as I knew, it was made from sugar, and harmless.

I have blue agave nectar in the house, but I haven't been using it. I'll try it today.

LOVE the hat!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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NUNZIATA43 7/4/2011 8:18AM

    Love the hat - and your encouragement! HATS OFF to you!!! I have tha gave nectar but it is so stinkin' sweet that only use a tad here and there. You're doing so well getting off the sodas! WHEW so glad I never started that stuff. Keep rockin' and rollin'!!!

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MARCYNA 7/4/2011 3:51AM

    I love your new profile picture..and I am amazed of your humor in describing all your cramps, sorry for that..I wish I had your sense of humor...kindness and sympathy.
PS I use honey as a sweetener. I know it's highy caloric but it's natural and won't do any harm in small amounts.

Comment edited on: 7/4/2011 3:52:49 AM

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ANATASHIKI 7/3/2011 1:23PM

    I don't know what to say , I always had cramps without using any artificial sweetener, due to low magnesium and /or calcium. sometimes it showed on lab tests results , sometimes not. sugar and carb cravings disappear if you don't eat sugar AT ALL after a while. sugar need is an illusion. if you don't eat them , cravings don't show anymore. sugar is addictive and white carbs the same. good luck with your healthy changes !

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GIRANIMAL 7/3/2011 12:42PM

    Dear. God. Aspartame is sooooooo scary. But emoticon at Joan's living dead comment! Do you have a health food store or Whole Foods near you? See if you can find some arnica gel or something called Traumeel for the pain. You can even get arnica tablets.

I had a similar reaction, I think, when I did the cleanse and I think it was from ditching the refined sugar! I had shooting pain from my low back, down my legs and into my feet so bad I was up crying one night. But luckily it only lasted about two days. I hope your reaction does not last as long as the Internet says it can.

Agave is good stuff! I even got you-know-who using it exclusively in his iced tea. emoticon Now if I could just get him to switch to stevia for his coffee, the damage from those Oreos he loves so much would be far less! LOL

Have am excellent holiday, dearest bro. Love, love, love the hat!

emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SPARKLISE 7/2/2011 9:19PM

    Great job on the giving up the pop and caffeine!
I restarted the caffeine and i hate giving it up again because i know i'm going to have discomfort(headaches).
But you reminded me that it won't last forever and that i'll feel much better.
Thank-you for sharing!
Oh! Love the hat!! emoticon

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CHAITEAKITTY40 7/2/2011 6:04PM

    Aspartame gives me wicked migraines, so I don't go near the stuff. Love the Hat! Happy 4th of July!!
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LORSI2000 7/2/2011 1:08PM

    Excellent look! Anyone that can wear bedazzled wonders is a friend of mine!

Reading your recent post, I want to "spark" your interest in researching the MANY benefits of ACV (Apple Cider Vinegar) if you haven't already.

If not, read on: I started taking 2 TBSP of organic ACV every morning. Straight. (it's recommended to add it to a glass of apple juice with honey; but I cast the wimp factor aside and take it straight! You get used to it and the convulsions don't last long.)

You can visit for all the benefits of ACV and more. It's relieved my joint pain, water retention, improved my immune system AND cleans the plumbing naturally and slowly so you don't run screaming to the nearest bathroom. It aids in getting rid of toxins, helps control and normalize body weight and more!

It's important to get "Organic" ACV that has the "webbing". The ACV in stores is crap, distilled and useless.

I swear by it! (and I don't mean I shout profanity when near the bottle!)

Have a "blast" this holiday weekend!

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NASFKAB 7/2/2011 8:49AM





Shocked to read about effects of aspartame. Glad you are cutting down on caffeine. Have to check out agave nectar


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LYNMEINDERS 7/2/2011 1:45AM

    Love the looks superb....

Comment edited on: 7/2/2011 1:46:33 AM

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LYNMEINDERS 7/2/2011 1:45AM

    Go you....2 months...that is totally superb...I am proud of you....and now giving up done....
I have also heard that Aspartame has that affect and abpout it staying in your body for quite sometime after you have ceased to consume it.....
Not good...however like you said...I am sure your body will rid itself of it...

Well done....

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DAD2GETFIT 7/1/2011 9:51PM

    I haven't stopped diet soda, but I have cut back. That's interesting about the withdrawal. Can you find the blue agave in a standard grocery or do you have to go to a specialty shop?

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CARTOONB 7/1/2011 9:09PM

    I'm a member of your club...the Living Embalmed Club! However, it is not working itself out of my system, so I am feeling no pain.

You've made some great decisions and changes. Great job!

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JUNEAU2010 7/1/2011 8:10PM

    BF uses blue agave nectar (he's diabetic) and is very happy with it.

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HDHAWK 7/1/2011 8:00PM

    Great hat!

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    I cut back on soda a year or so ago and gave up caffeine years ago. I can't do the agave though. Hate the taste but then I hate the taste of alcohol.

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SMILLS9 7/1/2011 1:32PM

    Very interesting information.

Love the hat.

Happy 4th.

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KERLIN26 7/1/2011 12:58PM

  Dr. Oz endorses blue agave...I've been meaning to try it. Now that you've reminded me, I will!

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GETFIT2LIVE 7/1/2011 11:55AM

    Love the hat--your granddaughter is awesome (like her grandpa!). YAY for you in taking those steps! I have not given up diet soda completely; I have it mostly when eating out, but I need to move away from it entirely. I've done it a couple of times, once for six months or so, but I do enjoy the carbonation. Sigh; one of my few remaining guilty pleasures, I'm afraid! Not quite sure I can give up caffeine, however; living in the Seattle area, I am in the virtual center of the coffee universe, and it supposedly has some positive health benefits when kept in moderation. We'll see; one step at a time, right? Glad you are over the hump with the pain; I hope it gets out of your system entirely soon and you are pain free!

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KT-NICHOLS-13 7/1/2011 11:54AM

    Great job John. May I also encourage you to look at other food labels, if you aren't already ... those tricky food manufactures like to slip aspartame or a version thereof, in other products as well. Crazy, but true.

LOVE the hat, you were it well!

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HAPPYSOUL91 7/1/2011 11:16AM

    Aspartame is real trouble for the body, there has been much research on the subject. I use Trivia which is natural and from plants

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MOMKAT4310 7/1/2011 10:48AM

    Thank you Thank you for the information on Aspartame. I have cut diet soda and have been experiencing nasty thigh to hip pain, mostly at night. Been to DR. who poked, prodded, pulled, stretched and had 4 vials of blood drawn. Nothing negative showed up in blood tests, but the reduced artificial sweetener could be the culprit. I will up the water even more, and give it some time and exercise. I have been doing lots of both weight bearing and non weight bearing leg and back exercises. I guess there are a lot of fat cells to be trying to hold on to that aspartame. And yes, I knew it was bad.

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BEATLETOT 7/1/2011 10:44AM

    Today is day 1 in my battle against aspartame. So far, so good...

Really enjoyed this blog!

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KKINNEA 7/1/2011 10:42AM

    That is the best silly hat ever. Interesting stuff on the aspartame - I might have to cut the tremendously occasional dier Coke I have too.

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KIKOOMAGOO 7/1/2011 10:32AM

    Wow- I knew aspartame was bad but didn't realize it was that bad. I don't think I eat anything that has it, but will start being more vigilant. Caffeine- hmm. I still have 8-12oz of coffee every morning, and am down to adding almond milk and dark cocoa powder to it. This is down from 40oz a day each cup with a .25 cup of flavored creamer. I'm getting there. Haven't tried agave nectar yet.
Love the hat! Enjoy your weekend SparkFriend!

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SILLYHP1953 7/1/2011 10:31AM

    Amazing work you are doing! Who knew how terrible diet sodas are for you! And think of ALL the people who drink them thinking they are making healthier choices. Thankfully I never drank much soda, and never diet, but I do drink green tea, and am trying to just drink it in the morning now. I will still get a headache in the morning sometimes before I drink my tea.

Who would have thought tequila was related to anything sweet!!
And no wonder your granddaughter has you wrapped around her little finger!

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GERIKRAGH 7/1/2011 10:21AM

    Sometimes I think we know more about health than the doctors. I always think I should try to deal with whatever I have before I see the doctor. And I always try to find out as much about an ailment as I can.

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DIANA_IS_BACK 7/1/2011 10:04AM

    About 10 years ago I worked with a woman who had Lupus and she could always tell when she was getting ready to have a flair up and they were getting more and more often to the point where she thought she was actually constantly in pain.

To make a long story short, her son who is a pharmacist told her to stop drinking diet soda and crystal light as well as anything else with aspartame.

Within a couple of days her symptoms subsided and within a couple of weeks she was completely "normal" and she did not have another flair up for the 2 years I continued to work with her. The only change she made was cutting the aspartame.

This prompted me to do some research of my own. The stuff is poison. pure and simple. It is amazing to me that the FDA has approved it for consumption.

Congrats on your success! I have yet to try agave yet. Everytime I go to buy some, I talk myself out of it for some reason. I really need to try it.

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CIVIAV 7/1/2011 10:01AM

    I love blue agave! WTG John you are laying out a few challenges for me! While I am resisting a bit , it's time. For me it's white grains. They are now gone!

Hmmm, I'll let you know how it goes, if it doesn't!

And, yes, I do, I do like your hat!

Comment edited on: 7/1/2011 10:02:15 AM

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CMA444 7/1/2011 9:53AM

    I still haven't given up my Diet coke. I know I need to but I just haven't done it yet.

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MME_BUTTERFLY 7/1/2011 9:45AM

    Congratulations on giving up the diet soda. I spent a year and a half experiencing a myriad of symptoms and was initially thought to have multiple sclerosis. I finally had an appointment with an MS specialist who told me he didn't know what was wrong with me because I had all the symptoms of MS, but no MS plaques on my MRIs. I finally figured out it was aspartame poisoning from the yogurts I was eating. Now that I make sure my diet is aspartame free most of my symptoms are gone, although I still have some residual double vision. Best of luck to you!

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MIZZSB 7/1/2011 9:44AM

    Oh John What a AWESOME pic!!!

I am done with diet soda for almost a month now, but i do have sugar pikes as well.
If i am correct you eat berries to control those pikes?

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GRAMLORI 7/1/2011 9:35AM

    What a fun hat!! Funny how as we get older, the more we don't mind the silly stuff. Hmmmmm.......I think I feel my blog in the making...........


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JECKIE 7/1/2011 9:30AM

    Love the hat!

"It is the substance tequila is made from." - boy, if that's not a reason to avoid it! :) (me and tequila have such a love/hate relationship)

Good for you for cleaning that stuff out of your diet! It's amazing what we put into our bodies, isn't it?

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