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WATERMELLEN's Recent Blog Entries

Journey of Life: Five Travel Tips

Sunday, August 22, 2010

There's a fun article in the Saturday edition of the National Post about a recent travel writers' conference put on the by the Cuba Tourism Board . . . with a rebellious travel writer who decided pretty much not to participate in the programme laid on. Here's the link if you want to read the whole article:

http://www.nationalpost.com/search/index
.html?q=tao+of+havana

But what I liked about the article most were the five "travel tips" he picked up on his alternate exploration with another travel writer. Which have general applicability beyond the travel context:

So here they are, in brief:

1. Wherever you are is where you're supposed to be.

2. Ask for what you want.

3. Trust your gut.

4. Smile as often as you can and as genuinely as you can.

5. The people you meet create the paradise you find.

Yeah, there it is. Why do we travel anyhow, except to find ourselves. And to re-create ourselves.


Maybe my "Murrican" friends don't get to Cuba very often -- and in fact although lots of Canadians love Cuba, I've never been there myself.

But probably all of this can be done, with the desired effect, from where we are right now.

Which is after all (see above, first tip) where we're supposed to be.

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

DONNACFIT 8/26/2010 9:10PM

    great blog,,let me get my pen to copy down those tips :)

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VALERIEMAHA 8/24/2010 1:39PM

    1. emoticon
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Love'em! Thanks...and I hope to make it to Cuba. I have a friend who lives now in Hawaii and studies dance in Cuba. She's bringing one of the teachers to HI for a workshop:
http://cubandanceworks
hophawaii.weebly.com/

xo
x
Maha

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KALIGIRL 8/22/2010 9:25PM

    Sounds right to me.
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WALKINGANNIE 8/22/2010 4:18PM

    These are great tips for any journey.

Thanks for sharing the article.

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DANCINGGARDENER 8/22/2010 11:40AM

    I may be "Murrican" but I hale from the northern mid-west... or as we call it "The United States of Canada"

http://uncyclopedia.
wikia.com/wiki/United_States_of
_Canada

Spenidng some time this morning doing some mental strength building by memorizing these five amazing pearls o' wisdom. Thanks so very much for the tips.

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SLENDERELLA61 8/22/2010 11:21AM

    Great wisdom! Thanks for sharing.

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TBANMAN 8/22/2010 11:16AM

    Wonderful advice - thanks! I'm off to read the article now. emoticon

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PENNYAN45 8/22/2010 10:50AM

    That is good advice! Thanks for sharing the list with us.



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DREMARGRL 8/22/2010 10:45AM

    I love those rules.....and try to live by them.....traveling or not. Thanks for the post and hope you have an amazing Sunday full of sniles and genuine love. XO MaryAnn
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GWENFITNESS1ST 8/22/2010 10:22AM

    I am traveling now and can really appreciate your comments. These are great travel tips. Thanks for sharing. emoticon

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VENISEW1 8/22/2010 10:18AM

    emoticon emoticon

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Point Pelee: Canada's Sanibel

Friday, August 13, 2010

We took a little break last weekend to travel to the southernmost part of Canada, Point Pelee. This is a peninsula jutting into lake Erie which extends below the 42nd parallel -- more southerly than Rome or Barcelona.

As a bird and butterfly sanctuary it reminds me quite a bit of Sanibel Island off Fort Myers -- except with a north/south rather than east/west orientation -- and no shells, dolphins pelicans or manatees!

I particularly enjoyed the boardwalk through the marsh on the east side -- the soothing sighs of wind in the cattails, the explosions of brightly coloured warblers in the willows, the swamp milkweed full of Monarch butterflies, the herons stalking frogs.

The west side has some great sand beaches, and the tip of the peninsula is sculpted by currents and riptides which it's easy to see are very powerful: visitors are warned not even to wade into the waters.

Interior areas are forested with Carolinian species that don't grow elsewhere in Canada -- tulip trees, a semi-tropical oak, lots of jungly vines. And there are cacti too!

Specialty fish in the area include yellow perch and pickerel. At a nearby restaurant we enjoyed a fish fry under a loggia smothered in trumpet vine -- a creamy orange variant which I've never seen before.

Wish our camera had been working . . . I'd have liked some pictures. Although those warblers were way too fast for me! We'll have to try and get back for either the fall or spring migration, which is apparently quite spectacular, with Pelee functioning as a funnel: last resting place for departing species in autumn, first landing for arriving species in spring.

Point Pelee was all laid out for cottage development in the 1920s. Some 300 cottages had been built before the government purchased it as environmentally protected parkland. All the cottages were removed and strenuous efforts were made to restore the natural flora and fauna -- including flying squirrels. I'm so grateful this special place was preserved.

For now, the monarch caterpillar I'd found locally about 10 days ago has made its chrysalis -- an elegant pale green with shimmering gold spots -- and I'm just waiting for it to turn transparent and reveal the butterfly inside. A summer tradition for me since I was very small . . . emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SASXONTHEMOVE 8/21/2010 7:38PM

    Loved Pelee when I went as an undergrad as part of one of my physical geography courses at Waterloo. Now I want to go back. Thanks for reminding me that its there! (3 degrees to the south!)

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STLRZGRRL 8/21/2010 7:02PM

    Erie is south of Barcelona?

Rilly?
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Poor Barcelona.



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TKADEEPBREATH 8/16/2010 8:34PM

    As a girl in Northern Iowa, milkweed plants grew everywhere and the Monarchs were drawn to them. I was always so fascinated by the way the chrysalis looked with the little gold line around the top. I thought it looked like a jewel hanging under the milkweed leaves. How exciting to wait till transformation comes and the jewel spreads it's wings. Some things (many things really) I miss about the mid-west. The place you visited sounds so pristine. I loved your description. I love it when words take you somewhere else. I can always count on you to do that.

Have a good night. Jan

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FROSTIERACES 8/16/2010 4:31PM

    I agree..who need pix - you've described it beautifully.

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TEENY_BIKINI 8/15/2010 1:59PM

    Wow. How descriptive - who needs pictures. It sounds wonderful.

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PENNYAN45 8/14/2010 9:07PM

    Thanks for the word picture of this place. I have been to Sanibel - but have never heard of Point Pelee. Will check it out!



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WALKINGANNIE 8/14/2010 5:00AM

    Wondeful descriptions as usual Ellen. Hope you are having a good break and that your toe isn't hindering you too much.



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BRIGHTSPARK7 8/14/2010 12:15AM

    Love your word painting of this wonderful place, Ellen. I get a glow from seeing wildlife, too.
I am amazed that you have a monarch chrysalis. The transformation from caterpillar to butterfly is magical. Waiting with you ...
Hugs,
Usha.

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KALIGIRL 8/13/2010 9:37PM

    Sounds idyllic -cool and placid.
Hope you are having a marvelous time.

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After-Acquired Motivation and Sunk Costs

Wednesday, August 04, 2010

"Watermellen knows motivation happens AFTER the workout -- not so much
before".

Motivation gets a lot of air time on SP blogs and message boards, And that's a recent status for me -- which kinda hit me all of a sudden. But having posted it, it felt right, and so I've been thinking about motivation a lot.

Because I'm realizing that motivation isn't something I usually experience until I've already done whatever it was that required the motivation in the first place -- which has got to be bit perverse.

But true to my experience. And true for both big and small "motivation-requiring" events.

Working pretty hard at my job, for example. When I have to motor through a weekend (as isn't uncommon in my line of work) I can't say that I wanna do it, ever!! A large part of the motivation for the career focus is what it cost me (money, effort, time, absence from family) to retrain and to acquire the qualifications to get back into the workforce after an absence to raise kids. So I can't waste all of that-- especially not if clients are counting on me to try my hardest. That's after-acquired motivation!

Getting along with my DH and my kids: I'm not a saint for sure and so don't always feel motivated to "bite my tongue" at the time one of those inevitable irritations of living with other people (yes, even well-loved other people) happens to arise. But: a large part of the motivation to do so is reflecting back on 31 + years of generally very happy marriage and family life. Much of it the product of previous judicious tongue-biting. Which quickly helps smooth things out and put that temporary annoyance into perspective. Sunk costs!

Work and family are the big stuff. What about smaller stuff, then? Do I feel motivated to go to the gym? Never -- until after I've been to the gym. Before I go to the gym, and while I'm slogging away at the gym, I have to remember how good I'll feel after I've been to the gym. And in addition, with a recent memory of how hard it is to burn off even 100 calories on the cross trainer, it's post-gym that I'm most motivated not to grab just anything and stuff it into my mouth. I've got the "sunk costs" of the workout I've just done to motivate me.

But if I work out, will that generally sustain my motivation not to overeat? Nope. Not reliably enough. It helps that I've also got the "sunk costs" of the size eight wardrobe, which I acquired after pretty arduous not overeating over the past nine years. And I want to be able to continue to wear those items. And I know how very quickly any relaxation of the eternal vigilance will result in 10 or 20 additional pounds. So again, "sunk costs": the monetary cost of acquiring the clothes, plus the effort costs of exercising/nutrition tracking.

In general, I don't have much motivation to do anything I don't want to do. But it helps to have the pragmatic realization that a whole lot of my life has been (and will continue to be) doing a whole lot of things that I don't want to do. Preferably without too much drama or self pity. Because I can remind myself that I will be enjoying the benefits of having done them, after the fact.

People tell me from time to time that I look like a highly-motivated self-disciplined person.

When actually not so much: I just do an excellent imitation of a reasonably motivated, reasonably disciplined person. Mostly because I don't want to waste all the effort I've already expended. So this is an approach that may work for me: but I don't fool myself that I'm particularly virtuous. What's going on is a pragmatic calculation.

The action comes first. If I waited to "feel motivated" I'd . . . still be waiting.

For me, motivation is after-acquired. It's generated by the "sunk costs" of gritting my teeth and making myself just get on with it !! Worrying about motivation, how to get motivated, why am I not motivated etc. etc. for me tends to be a dead end. I'm manufacturing an excuse, telling myself not very subtly that I don't have to do it because I'm not motivated, or at least until I'm motivated.

So when I catch myself doing nothing because I'm not feeling motivated? I'm going to have to remind myself from here on in: for me, motivation is after-acquired. AFTER I've done it!






  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

STLRZGRRL 8/21/2010 7:00PM

    Well, I'm late to this party but sunk costs are something I argue about in the office ALLA time!

In my own "real" life... I have NEVER EVER EVER loved the exercise... I have ALWAYS loved HAVING EXERCISED.


Ya. Once again, Ellen, I feel ya, Woman!!
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FROSTIERACES 8/16/2010 4:30PM

    "Mostly because I don't want to waste all the effort I've already expended."

This is great...no, this is BRILLIANT! Exactly true and wow..I really need to remember this. Why go backwards? when the pain and agony of getting there was such effort! Move the body...the mind will follow are words I tell myself often. Whether it works depends on my level of self pity...or stubborness....... :) Focus forward as the rewards of motivating are wonderful! Awesome blog!




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NANCY- 8/16/2010 8:07AM

    It is a bit perverse... but generally rewards do come after action. And a body in motion... well you know that one.

Great blog!
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MSSNOWY 8/15/2010 11:56AM

    What a splendid explanation of exactly how motivation works for me, too. I'm not quite as good at you are at it, though. I'm going to have to work on that. Thanks for the insight!

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SUCHAHOOT 8/15/2010 11:38AM

    This is GREAT! It seems so obvious, but one of those things that I hadn't come close to thinking through. Thanks for laying it all out there so nicely!

I should have read it yesterday! I'm in a 31 year marriage also, only didn't do such a good job of biting my tongue this weekend!

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IMAGINE_IT 8/6/2010 7:02PM

    Great Blog Ellen..as always...i am the same way..if i would 'wait' or 'look' to see if i am motivated..lol...i would never ever exercise...so yes..i just have to do it (the exercise) otherwise Motivation never really comes knocking on my door!! emoticon for your thoughts..thank you for this Blog....good to see that i am not the only one who has 'After Motivation' emoticon

Comment edited on: 8/6/2010 7:03:25 PM

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TEENY_BIKINI 8/6/2010 4:43PM

    Wow. That was totally interesting. I never really think about motivation though. It is interesting to be aware of these sorts of things. Well done.

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LUNADRAGON 8/6/2010 11:22AM

    Interesting thought. Thank you.
It always has bewildered me why some people are motivated, and others are not.
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BETHIE-22 8/5/2010 10:43PM

    This was great to read - I can relate! Thanks for sharing!!!

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WALKINGANNIE 8/5/2010 5:11PM

    Ellen, your blog helped me very much today. Thank you for your self-awareness and openness. It struck a chord and made me able to put some things into perspective.

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SLENDERELLA61 8/4/2010 11:47PM

    Very interesting blog. I certainly can understand not wanting to waste all the effort up to present. Good motivation. I also find that many times when I don't feel motivated, I can still do what I need to do to succeed. Motivation is kind of illusive. I had never thought of it as "after acquired", but I'll give that concept some thought. I think you are right not to pursue motivation, but to pursue the actions that you need to succeed. -Marsha

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Brain Fitness: Building Happiness Neurons!!

Sunday, August 01, 2010

A recent blog by PUDLECRAZY got me thinking about an article I'd read on new research in neuroplasticity: our brains have huge potential to to grow and change, even as adults.

If you are interested in reading the whole article, here's the link.

http://www.healthzone.ca/health/mindmood
/article/842511--the-brain-changing-th
e-adult-mind-through-the-power-of-plasticity

We worry about Alzheimer's disease and cognitive decline as if it were inevitable. Well, maybe it's not.

The physicial fitness movement is important: almost all of us here at SP believe that to be true (even when it's tough to roll out of bed at 5 a.m. and head to the gym, we know it's a good thing!)

But: brain fitness is important too.

Brain fitness isn't just about sudoku or repetitive drills. Because it's not just memory (cognitive retrieval of facts and information) which can be protected as we age through brain fitnesss.

The new research indicates that well into middle age and even later, we can actually develop new neuron pathways. We can use brain fitness -- trying on new thought pathways -- to physically enlarge whole sections of our brain, selectively. Just like we can increase bicep muscle mass through bicep curls. And cardio capacity through running.

Amazing! Changing up our thinking is as effective for brain fitness as changing up our strength training or adding cardio intervals is for physical fitness.

(When I went back to school in my forties and pursued three quick degrees in a whole new discipline there were lots of days my head hurt: but yup, I probably did learn how to think in some weird new ways! My brain definitely felt "fitter" at the end than at the beginning!! No noticeable swelling of the head, either . . . )


Way more valuable than mere intellecual prowess, this new brain research even suggests that we can deliberately train our brains to become more compassionate. And we can actually use brain fitness to change and expand the structures of our brains in ways that make us experience greater happiness.

The release of endorphins through physical fitness often lifts mood: but neuroplasticity research indicates that brain training offers more than that temporary effect. The parts of the brain that signal happiness get bigger and stronger the more we use them.

For me this suggests that even though we cannot always choose what happens to us, we can often choose our attitudes in response to what happens to us. Wilfully choosing a positive attitude isn't only simple-minded Pollyannaism, then: not if choosing a positive attitude can change our very brains to offer such huge long term benefits.

Because deciding to be happy often enough, deliberately enough and stubbornly enough seems to actually increase the brain's very capacity to experience happiness.

Spanx might be a temporary fix for flabby abs when I decide at the last minute to slide into a too-tight cocktail dress for one festive evening-- but Spanx can't provide anything permanent. And Spanx are not the optimal choice if I also plan to walk, breathe and enjoy myself!! A whole whack of crunches and planks plus some nutrition tracking would have been a much better solution.

Real physical exercise, real physical fitness.

Ditto real happiness exercise, real happiness brain fitness?

What a happy thought!!


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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

VALERIEMAHA 8/24/2010 1:41PM

    WOW! Thanks Ellen -- I LOVE IT! And I can use all the help I can get!!!
xox
Maha

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FROSTIERACES 8/16/2010 4:36PM

    Mid forties back to school again! wow....I often want to go back. I haven't reached that point yet tho! Where did you find the will to do it?! oh it's in a motivation blog I just read. Yet it's so hard to do Ellen! I think I'm fearful to go back...and wondering if I could survive the pain. You're a great motivator in many ways yourself you know!

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SUCHAHOOT 8/15/2010 11:50AM

    I've been fascinated by this since I read about it some time back. You might enjoy the book, THE MIND AND THE BRAIN NEUROPLASTICITY AND THE POWER OF MENTAL FORCE. It is really interesting. The author was treating OCD patients and began documenting the ability of the mind to make changes to the brain. Thanks for the post! I'm off to read you linked article. ..and get back into this book. I can always use a new happy path!

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PUDLECRAZY 8/3/2010 9:16PM

    I love your blog! I can't agree with you more.

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TKADEEPBREATH 8/3/2010 8:30PM

    I love this idea. emoticon But it's much more than just an idea. It's so true. I just heard somewhere the other day how important it is to keep our mind busy with creative things for mental health. Studies with elderly people has shown that this kind of activity of the mind keeps away depression and negative emotions. I don't care how old you are, it works for everyone.

I have a French course I'm working on. Now I feel inspired to set some real goals with that. Talk about "straining the brain"! It's a good workout though.

Another great blog . . . thanks Ellen

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WALKINGANNIE 8/3/2010 8:59AM

    Thanks for another informative and thought provoking blog Ellen. It was an interesting article and I really believe that attitude is important. SP has helped me with this greatly.

One of my greatest physical luxuries these days is the freedom from Spanx-type fortifications!

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PENNYAN45 8/2/2010 9:56PM

    This is good news! Thanks for passing it along.

I believe that our brains have much that is yet to be discovered.










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1BIGDREAM 8/2/2010 2:58PM

    I love this!!! Being back in school and really diving into science classes for the first time ever has been eye-opening for me. I always thought I was "bad" as science, but the truth is that I just never took on the challenge of working those muscles! Not only am I learning new things, I am also certain that I am learning how to learn new types of things!

Great blog!
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GEODAWG 8/1/2010 9:35PM

    Brain power! It is amazing what scientists are discovering about the human brain. Utterly fascinating. I shall read your link!

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MYOWNHERO 8/1/2010 9:12PM

    My brain muscles thank you!
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Coffee/Dog/Book or Tea/Cat/Movies?

Sunday, July 25, 2010

A recent comment on WALKINGANNIE's Spark Page, following up on my "Ambrose the hero hound" blog:

"I often think to myself that there tend to be coffee people and tea people; dog people and cat people; book people and movie/TV people: and I'm primarily in the first category for each of these dichotomies!!"

What do you think?

And -- are there any more "great divides" you'd add in?

Clothes/Home Decor? (for me, it would be clothes quite definitely).

And yes: I DO have dear friends who are tea/cat/movies/home decor types: yes I do!!



  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNADRAGON 8/6/2010 11:24AM

    coffee/cats / books / creativity
interesting : )
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FROSTIERACES 8/4/2010 8:54PM

    definitely a tea person here...love chamomile. Thank you Ellen for the kindest words on my blog today. I've missed you. I've been trying to catch up and reconnect back to Spark. I find your blogs pretty darn deep :) so I need time to concentrate! while reading. You often write about many ideas and subjects that cross my mind and other things that I should give more thought to. I am a dog person...and I choose books over movies any day! I am not a decor person ...though I buy and read a lot of books about it! :) Thanks again....so much. emoticon

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MERALO 7/29/2010 8:59AM

    Hmmm...I'm the following:

Home decor/coffee/cat - but I love movies and books equally, can I have both?



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SUNFLOWERGRRL 7/29/2010 8:31AM

    What a fun blog! I like 'em all!

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TEENY_BIKINI 7/28/2010 9:46PM

    I love my cats but if I were home more - they'd have to learn to love my new doggie. I love doggies.

I tend to like TV and books more than movies... Hmm...

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BRIGHTSPARK7 7/27/2010 2:34PM

    Cat or dog? I'm in the "All creatures great and small" category. Do you watch James Herriot, the Yorkshire vet? I quit drinking coffee a few years ago. Are you aghast at this? It took some doing and I still LOVE the aroma, but the caffeine was affecting my bowels. More than you needed to know. :) My favorite teas at the moment are Rooibos and Tulsi pomegranate green tea. With a chocolate dipped biscotti to dunk. emoticon And as for clothing and decor, as long as it's color coordinated with Duke's fur, it's okay. LOL!

Comment edited on: 7/27/2010 2:38:41 PM

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WHOLY_FIT_48 7/26/2010 5:46AM

    Oh, I'm definitely coffee/dog/book/movie/clothes type of person. With three goldens who rule the roost, home decor focus is out of the question... LOL

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TKADEEPBREATH 7/25/2010 8:17PM

    My dear friend, I think we have so many things in common, I think we should plan a cruise together . . . how 'bout 2013? Let's work it . . .

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FRACTALMYTH 7/25/2010 6:52PM

    hmmmm tea/catdog/book lol

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REMEMBER2BME 7/25/2010 5:41PM

    How funny. I agree. Coffee (love the ice coffee)/dog (no doubt)/book (although I like movies too)/clothes
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I am also a huge breakfast person. I am happy eating breakfast 3 times a day. Funny, I used to not be a book person and now I always want one within reach if possible.

Ah, and what about runners versus... hum what else is there?
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WALKINGANNIE 7/25/2010 1:53PM

    Coffee / dogs / book / clothes! i don't mind the others, but these are definitely dominant.

Thanks for the book goodie and tip. I haven't read any of that series but I'm always open to recommendations.

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ONEKIDSMOM 7/25/2010 11:19AM

    Coffee / dog / book person here.

But I fuzz the line on all three... I also like tea on occasion, get on OK with cats, and enjoy a good film. Can't even begin to decide between clothing or home decor, as I'm not strong on either!

Funny how we choose to classify the world. emoticon

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DANCINGGARDENER 7/25/2010 11:09AM

    coffee/cat/ cartoons!

I love dividing hippies between vdubs / volvos (I like to count both in the parking lots of shows and then classify the bands by the cars their fans drive)

not sure about clothes/decor divide but I am on the knitting side of crochet/knit and on the purse side of purse/shoes.

Comment edited on: 7/25/2010 11:16:32 AM

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NORAB52GOOD 7/25/2010 10:55AM

    I am definitely a cat person but I like coffee and tea equally and I prefer books and home decor. So I guess I am coffeetea/cat/books/home decor. emoticon Fun blog!

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TERRIPHILL 7/25/2010 10:24AM

    OK....I'm coffee/cat/movies/home decor seems I can't make up my mind! Loved your post. Cute!!

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GEODAWG 7/25/2010 10:18AM

    I am too lazy to actually have a dog even tho I love them. I have a cat who is as lovable as any dog I ever had, so he fills the void. I'm with you on the coffee/book thingy!

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