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Mary Oliver got me AGAIN!!!

Monday, November 02, 2009

There's no way I can resist sharing this amazing *ode to life* -- it grabbed me this morning and took me out of my mundane reality, transporting me to the river, where I nestled in beside Mary and was awed by the simple exquisite pleasure of simply being ALIVE! All of the daily exigencies pale beside it.

"Just what IS a computer?"


I have not really, not yet, talked with otter
about his life.

He has so many teeth, he has trouble
with vowels.

Wherefore our understanding
is all body expression

he swims like the sleekest fish,
he dives and exhales and lifts a trail of bubbles.
Little by little he trusts my eyes
and my curious body sitting on the shore.

Sometimes he comes close.
I admire his whiskers
and his dark fur which I would rather die than wear.

He has no words, still what he tells about his life
is clear.
He does not own a computer.
He imagines the river will last forever.
He does not envy the dry house I live in.
He does not wonder who or what it is that I worship.
He wonders, morning after morning, that the river
is so cold and fresh and alive, and still
I don't jump in.

~ Mary Oliver ~

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GINABUG 11/6/2009 9:32PM

    I LOVE this poem! Mary Oliver is so good at getting you with that last line...where you just say, ohhhhhhhhh! Thanks for sharing!

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GINABUG 11/6/2009 9:32PM

    I LOVE this poem! Mary Oliver is so good at getting you with that last line...where you just say, ohhhhhhhhh! Thanks for sharing!

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GINABUG 11/6/2009 9:30PM

    I LOVE this poem! Mary Oliver is so good at getting you with that last line...where you just say, ohhhhhhhhh! Thanks for sharing!

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GINABUG 11/6/2009 9:29PM

    I LOVE this poem! Mary Oliver is so good at getting you with that last line...where you just say, ohhhhhhhhh! Thanks for sharing!

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GINABUG 11/6/2009 9:29PM

    I LOVE this poem! Mary Oliver is so good at getting you with that last line...where you just say, ohhhhhhhhh! Thanks for sharing!

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FLORIDASUN 11/3/2009 8:07AM

    Hi Maha...we have a little family of otters that swim in the water area that accumulates behind our house backing up to 27 acres of wetlands...when I see the family..I will think of you..and Mary Oliver..and they get those vowels out just Otter talk..I hear them chattering all the time...bliss! emoticon

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DRAGONFLY7149 11/3/2009 2:40AM

    As always, Mary Oliver says it like no other! Thanks, Maha


(Oh, and yes I did get to bed earlier than I usually do, but then again the clocks went back on Saturday night...and my computer shut down, but that's another story -- up and running now, but it's late so I'm going to try for another *early* night)

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    beautiful picture, wonderful blog.

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CARLI_MAE 11/2/2009 12:42PM

    w@t w00d w33 d00 w!t n0 vwlz??? 0 my, p00 w!ttw 0tt3w! b^t ! b3 gw@d h3 b3 h@ppy ... ahhhhh ...

CAREWREN would love this ... she is an Oliver fan also. But still we don't jump in (to LIFE, not the water, I think is what Mary was thinking) who said "most men lead lives of quiet desperation" ??? Alexander Pope? Who, who???? Gud gweef now i zownd lik an owl ... hoot ...
Don'wurry, Steph awredy don tol'me i am "nutz",

Batty, I mean C@wl!M@3 :=)

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STRAWBERRY*MOON 11/2/2009 12:28PM

    Peacefulness and simplicity; it doesn't get much better than that.

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STLRZGRRL 11/2/2009 10:19AM

    "...He has so many teeth, he has trouble
with vowels."

I LOVE this...

This is the beautiful thingy stuff of branches that WCW was always on about... at least I think it wam him... it might have been my Lit. professor...

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FRANCESCANAZ 11/2/2009 10:16AM

    Lovely little otter, lovely message.

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LADYIRISH317 11/2/2009 10:07AM

    Beautiful! Did you take that picture?

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LAPORTE2006 11/2/2009 9:22AM

    Beautiful words of simplistic life. I think the more materialistic we become, we don't see the beauty of simplicity.
Life is all around us, yet sometimes we don't take the time to see it.
I love the picture. It says a thousand words, as they say.
Have a great day and share in life.

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JNEUBS 11/2/2009 9:19AM

    Feeln great Maha!

Love Mary Oliver!

ChiTown Jeff
emoticon emoticon emoticon
Peace, Love, Compassion, Laughter & Hope!

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Changing the habits of a lifetime....

Sunday, November 01, 2009

It is indeed an interesting paradox -- to be truly spontaneous takes training and sustained effort.

The effort to change a lifetime of habitual, unhealthy eating, of taking time daily for sitting practice, of using the moments of each day wisely does require "sustained effort." Sometimes I wonder if I am equal to the task for these, and other difficult challenges.

But I look at other momentous tasks I have completed through the years and know that yes, I can do it because yes, I am worth it. Thanks to Sri Easwaran for this potent reminder.

The loathsome mask has fallen, the man remains
Sceptreless, free, uncircumscribed, but man
Equal, unclassed, tribeless, and nationless,
Exempt from awe, worship, degree, the king
Over himself.
-- Percy Bysshe Shelley

None of us wants to be artificial. We all want to be natural and spontaneous. But true spontaneity is not simply doing what we feel like doing and not doing what we don't feel like doing. That is simply reacting as we have been conditioned to react. It is really no more spontaneous than a rubber ball which bounces when we drop it on the sidewalk.

We are being truly spontaneous when we can change the habits of a lifetime. We are being truly spontaneous when we are able to drop our pet project and work for the welfare of those around us without a ripple of protest in the mind. We are being truly spontaneous when we can respond calmly, constructively, and compassionately to a difficult situation. The secret of spontaneity is training. We cannot just decide to be spontaneous overnight; but we can all make these marvelous transformations in our lives if we are prepared to put in the sustained effort they require.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FLORIDASUN 11/2/2009 7:55AM

    Maha..I always love your wisdom, you sharing, you wit and your are always my "MAHA MOMENT" hugs! Bobbi

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CARLI_MAE 11/1/2009 1:26PM

    Aye me ... I have often questioned when work is really work, and if it ever really need be "work;" and when effort is really effort, and if it ever really need be "effort" ... but now I realize I've never really thought through the real meaning of spontaneity! Looks like I'll be back for at least several more lifetimes ... che sera, sera, I guess. emoticon

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BABYFACE26 11/1/2009 12:01PM

    Well said. Amen to that. emoticon

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DOKEYOKEY 11/1/2009 11:42AM

    Love this. Reminds me, also, of the benefits of practicing yoga (which I don't do regularly, either!): A fit, strong, flexible body has many options and can be spontaneous. A rigid, weak body may choose in the moment, but has many fewer options.

I think the same is true for our minds -- it takes practice to build strength and flexibility that will allow for true freedom.

Thanks, Maha!

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LAPORTE2006 11/1/2009 9:28AM

    Beautiful words as always. I had a similar thought for this mornings blog LOL.
Must say this only reinforces it. Thanks. Have a great day and in this time of thanks, roll out the memories and relish life.

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AHEALTHIERME9 11/1/2009 9:14AM

    What a BEAUTIFUL blog!!!

Oh, my dear, YOU have inspired me this morning! Well said; well articulated!

Well, now, I'm just going to have to visit your SparkPage!!!


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Thoughts will not take form of themselves....

Friday, October 30, 2009

Ay yay yay! I was talking with a friend this morning who is sooooooooo negative. He was saying things like "I even tried to *off* myself, but failed at that too." I said to him, "Quit it! We've heard the Teachings over-and-over. (Swami Satchidananda is his teacher too.) We know it's up to us to grab hold of our thoughts and turn them around when they're negative and betraying us. It's up to us!" And then I read this morning's Thought for the Day from Sri Easwaran which, as usual, meets me exactly where I am!

I have another blog semi-ready to post, but it's so depressing...more negativity...about the FDA's bombardment of natural remedies (and spokesmen like Andrew Weil, M.D., who was bombarded by them) while supporting the vile pharmaceutical industry in this whole *flu scam thang.* But I don't have the heart right now to finish it and I realized, after reading Easwaran, that THIS is what I need to focus on right now. There's SO MUCH negativity in the world. But we can control the negativity within ourselves through meditation practice and other consistent disciplines.

Hip hip hooray for the path to freedom from compulsive thinking and acting!!!
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Thoughts of themselves have no substance; let them arise and pass away unheeded. Thoughts will not take form of themselves, unless they are grasped by the attention; if they are ignored, there will be no appearing and no disappearing.
-- Ashvaghosha

Life is a kind of play in which we are called upon to play our part with skill. But in meditation we are sometimes more like the audience, while our thoughts are the actors. If we could go backstage, we could see all the actor-thoughts getting made up. Anger is there putting on his long fangs. Fear is rattling his chains. Jealousy is admiring herself in the mirror and smearing on green mascara.

Now, these thought-actors are like actors and actresses everywhere: they thrive on a responsive audience. When Jealousy comes out on stage and we sit forward on our seats, she really puts on a show. But on the other hand, what happens if nobody comes to see the performance?

No actor likes to play to an empty house. If they’re real professionals, they might give their best for a couple of nights, but after that they’re bound to get a little slack. Jealousy doesn’t bother with her makeup any more; who’s going to admire it? Anger throws away his fangs. Fear puts away his chains. Whom can they impress? Finally, the whole cast gives it up as a bad job and goes home.

In other words, when you can direct attention, your thinking will never be compulsive again.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SFERENTI 10/31/2009 5:32PM

    By nature, I'm an optimist. But only recently did I realize that over the years I had fallen in the habit ignoring the good all around me and focusing more on the bad. I'm working mightily to correct this habit. My first step has been to get a handle on my stress levels. I am only just now ready to move on to step two--offering myself a menu of opportunities to savor the present each day and choosing one or two.

I agree with you, Maha. The universe suffers or improves as a result of our collective mentality. I vote for joy!

Comment edited on: 10/31/2009 5:32:56 PM

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GBOOMER 10/31/2009 9:46AM

    Hey friend Maha,

Nice to read your positive thoughts about positive thoughts! heh heh!

I enjoyed it. You are a very positive person who is good to know.

Hitting the books this weekend? Like me?


emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CORPUSANNIE 10/31/2009 9:01AM

    emoticon and emoticon for this blog and the link. I know it will help and I am passing it along to both of my daughters (my son just goes fishing--it works for him) emoticon.
A positive list for you:
bestirred ourselves to really clean the house
my oldest, Laura coming today w/husband Winn and my 3 yr old love, Byron
Liam's 1st bday (son's boy) party
slept straight through the night

peace my friend

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PEACEFULONE 10/31/2009 5:38AM

    Many thanks again, you always hit the nail on the head! Your wisdom never fails to amaze me dear Maha! You are certainly a blessing in my life. Peace and love, Elaine

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LIZARDG7 10/31/2009 3:55AM

    Maha - thanks for your blog. I haven't read Easwaran for about a week now (something I religiously do every day) and can't believe how I've slipped backward. Last night I binged on Halloween candy I bought to give away and didn't even think about it. You reminded me how important it is to stay positive and focused. It's something I need to do for myself every day. Thanks, Lizzie

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BABYFACE26 10/31/2009 1:45AM

    This is so important - because there is SO much in our World that is negative and Real, but that doesn't mean we need to dwell on it, and focus on it...and of course, its challenging to walk that tightrope of being aware of whats going on in the world, and not holding despairing and fearful thoughts in our heads. A very tricky walk. But so important. Thank you for posting.

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LINDA25427 10/30/2009 5:36PM

    Being negative really hurts and I know at times we we all head down that road but thank God our negative thoughts can be turned around into positive ones . A frown is a smile turned upside down . Hope you have a great weekend . God bless. emoticon

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CARLI_MAE 10/30/2009 5:26PM

    Okay, I'm hooked. Just subscribed. Easwaran's comments on the quote reminded me of a sign we used to carry around in anti-Vietnam war protests that said "What if they had a war and nobody came?" I'm not sure we knew just how deep the thought really was at the time ... or perhaps we did, but were just a tad too stoned to focus for any length of time on just one thought?
So sorry for your encounters with the negative today. I highly recommend my blog of the day "How to Medicate a Parrot" for some levity...
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STRAWBERRY*MOON 10/30/2009 4:29PM


You're so right about negativity. Years ago I had a friend who called being negative and constantly complaining about everything the "ain't it awful, Mabel" syndrome.

My Dad, who is one of the most positive and optimistic person I've ever known, was going through a serious bad patch that was in no way his fault but the result of evil behavior on the part of someone else--someone close to him that he had trusted implicitly. He got seriously depressed. It frightened me, because he was over sixty and I had never seen him this way. I sent notes and telephoned frequently, trying, sometimes clumsily, to boost his spirits. Of course I mentioned the old cliche about the glass being half empty.... One day I called him and he sounded much like his old self. He told me his glass was more than half full. I asked him how this had come about, and he said he simply got a smaller glass. With the return of his sense of humor, I knew he had accepted his pain and moved on.

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LAPORTE2006 10/30/2009 4:03PM

    I needed those words. I have been drowning in my bronchitis, letting it turn me negative for a couple of days. I think it might be feeding on my feeling down. This morning I felt better than all week. I had been going from good to bad to ok and because of that I needed to wake myself and get the positive to give this sickness peace and the ability to heal. I have been meditating again but I never could acheive a deepness. Maybe I have been trying to hard but these words touched my need. the speaker part of our computer died and I don't get to listen to music much anymore and I think I miss it. Thanks. emoticon

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Vitality to draw on for patience, resilience, and creativity

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

I call meditation "sitting practice" since when meditation is actually mastered, the sixth chapter of the Bhagavad Gita says that "the mind is as still as the flame of a candle in a windless place" and I DEFINITELY am not there! *I* (the witnessing consciousness -- the soul) wage a daily battle with my mind and sometimes the soul wins and sometimes the mind wins.

Even the more mundane aspects of the practice are BIG, as described by Sri Easwarn that in itself should sufficiently motivate me. But no! I'm stubborn as a mule, and good habits seem to come to me only with great and constant struggle (consider, for instance eating moderately and consciously...get the picture?!).

In any case, this "Thought for the Day" from Sri Easwarn spoke deeply to me of the value of sitting practice and I decided to share it, since it is totally related to our journey toward optimal wellness.

Love feels no burden, thinks nothing of trouble, attempts what is above its strength. . . . It is therefore able to undertake all things, and it completes many things, and warrants them to take effect, where one who does not love would faint and lie down.
-- Thomas a Kempis

Without a tank full of gas, no car can drive very far. The mind, too, needs a full tank of vitality to draw on for patience, resilience, and creativity. Filling that tank every morning is one of the most practical purposes of meditation. The test of your meditation is: How long can you be patient with those around you? In the beginning, you should aim to make it at least to noon acting like the proverbial angel.

Most of us, however, even if we start with a full tank, have little control over the thousand and one little pinpricks that drain vitality as we go along: worry, vacillation, irritation, daydreaming. By lunchtime the indicator may be hovering around empty.

Then it is that you have to be acutely vigilant. The tank is nearly empty, but by sheer effort and deft defensive driving, and using the mantram, you manage to coast through to the end of the day without any serious accidents.

The more effort you make, the more endurance you gain. The next day you may find the tank itself a little larger; you start the next day with a greater capacity for love and patience than before.
-- Sri Eknath Easwaran

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FLORIDASUN 10/28/2009 7:26PM

    Hi this blog. Yes, I need meditation, yes I need peacefulness, yes I need to quiet my silly mind and just be! emoticon

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LIVNFITNHAPPY 10/27/2009 6:20PM

    "Love feels no burden" is my favorite part. When I am in that state of steady wisdom, I, too, feel no burden. It is in moments when I begin to feel stressed that I realize my tank is gettting low.

Thank you for sharing!

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DRAGONFLY7149 10/27/2009 2:04PM

    A lovely offering, as usual, Maha!

/gem emoticon

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CARLI_MAE 10/27/2009 12:24PM

    "But no! I'm stubborn as a mule, and good habits seem to come to me only with great and constant struggle" ... gee whiz, you sound just like me! LOL!

Funny, isn't it ... that what is really so simple, we seem to complicate and make difficult. Way back when I was really into yoga, a fellow teacher of the practice said to me ... "but sometimes it's just so much FUN" (to go the hard way) ... maybe that is what we are afraid of -- losing this part of ourselves that we see as definining us in the world, even though we know at one and the same time that persona/personality is not the true reality of all that we are and all that we wish to achieve.

"We shall never cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring shall be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time." (paraphrased) --T.S. Eliot

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FRANCESCANAZ 10/27/2009 11:38AM

    Ditto to what CHITOWN Jeff said.

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BSTAKINGACTION 10/27/2009 11:35AM

    I appreciate all of the above input. I, too, am working towards stillness of body and mind. The "empty tank" imagery was intriguing and I look forward to exploring the work of Sri Easwaran. Thanks for posting!

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SOULCOLLAGESUE 10/27/2009 10:57AM

    You know my deep affection for Sri Easwaran, our similar approach to spirituality. I was about to write, While I'm in the midst of family (everyone sick, I'm the family homeopath), your writing and practices keep ME grounded. Of course, I immediately remembered Sri Easwaran's timeless teaching that family is the optimal experience in which to practice such living skills. Thank you for the present reminder! Lol

His method of passage meditation, in particular ( is family-life friendly. I once introduced Sri Easwaran and passage meditation to a local Church, and the group continues to meet almost 10 years later. I remember one father who was astounded at the immediate and new patience he was experiencing with his family, especially impressed at his wife's response and appreciation.

I fondly remember you each day, and hope your aspirations have been enjoyable.

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SLAYINGDRAGONS 10/27/2009 10:31AM

    "In the beginning, you should aim to make it at least to noon "! emoticon
Cant emoticonthe voice in my head that keeps telling me I need to be perfect and nothing else will do!
First step, Vicki - emoticonlistening to what others think you should be!
Next step - emoticontrying to perfect what is human andmortal.
Keep trying to enjoy who you already are.

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VALERIENEAL 10/27/2009 9:31AM

    Thank you for sharing. The empty tank really spoke to me.

I had someone explain to me that the word meditation comes from the same word used to describe the way a cow eats and digests it food. It will eat the grass, chew swallow, bring it back up and start all over again until it goes to the last stomach. I love to watch cows, I could just sit for hours and watch them, the only thing that disturbs them from their "meditation" is a storm (or a truck load of hay, which brings more "meditaion"). They are unwavering from the birds landing on them, they stand in the sun all day, occasionally stepping into a nearby pond for a dip.

When I apply that "method" to a problem or an area of my life, one of 2 things happen, I come up with a solution, or not, either way I notice I am not stressed any more. I am not minimizing any part of your post, I like very much what you had to say, and I believe we could all benefit from some meditation. I just simply like to watch the cows come home while I do, usually while I am sitting under a shade tree in my garden.

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JNEUBS 10/27/2009 9:20AM

    This tank loves getting filled up with premium gas at ValerieMaha Station!

May Maha enjoy happiness and the root of happiness!

May Maha be free of suffering and the root of suffering!

May Maha not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering!

May Maha dwell in the great equanimity free from passion, aggression, and prejudice!

Peace, Love, Compassion, Laughter & Hope!
ChiTown Jeff
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AZIMAT 10/27/2009 9:13AM

    This post reminds me of a prayer that I once saw that listed all the wonderful attributes that the pray-er had been able to manifest so far, and then asked for help now that she was about to get out of bed. emoticon

All kidding aside, well, most, thanks for the post. An active meditation life brings so much more love, dimension, emotional equanimity and clarity.

Wish we could bottle it to distribute!


You are distributing it.



Comment edited on: 10/27/2009 9:48:21 AM

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to be completely alive every moment...

Monday, October 26, 2009

...that is my heart's desire.

a song with no end

when Whitman wrote, "I sing the body electric"

I know what he
I know what he

to be completely alive every moment
in spite of the inevitable.

we can't cheat death but we can make it
work so hard
that when it does take

it will have known a victory just as
perfect as

~ Charles Bukowski ~

(The Night Torn With Mad Footsteps)

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

BABYFACE26 10/31/2009 1:51AM

    I have always related to that phrase, "the body electric" as defining what human energy really consists of, electrical impulses! Well, and being an Aquarius, who has More electrical energy than most people lets just say, I'm Very aware of it!
Yes, electricity crackles and moves, and it is SO alive!

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FRANCESCANAZ 10/26/2009 6:56PM

    emoticon Keep them coming amiga!

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ONMYWAYTOGOAL 10/26/2009 9:24AM

    Thank you!

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AZIMAT 10/26/2009 8:40AM

    Thanks, Maha, and thanks for your encouragement on my latest entry. You are a blessing!

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GBOOMER 10/26/2009 8:15AM

    I don't know anyone on here who is more alive than YOU!

Have a super Monday, Maha!


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JUGE300000 10/26/2009 7:39AM



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