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Kindness Counts

Tuesday, January 04, 2011

It's what we need, it's what so many of us find here on Spark People.

And here's a great blog on that topic:


Thanks, DCGUY72!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

TRYINGHARD1948 1/5/2011 3:53AM

    Loved the blog.

... and it's why SparkPeople works for so many of us.

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CMB2048 1/4/2011 11:13PM

    You are so correct and thanks for sharing the blog link with us.

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TRAVELGRRL 1/4/2011 8:58PM

    Thank you so much for sharing!

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FRACTALMYTH 1/4/2011 4:35PM


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WALKINGANNIE 1/4/2011 1:12PM

    Thanks Ellen. A great read.

I wonder how and why SP has tapped into people's kindness? It's magical.

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KALIGIRL 1/4/2011 12:46PM

    Right on!

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VALERIEMAHA 1/4/2011 10:28AM

    'Twas a good'un! Thanks for pointing it out.

"My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness."
-- HH, the Dalai Lama

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I've Got Sunshine on a Cloudy Day

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Remember that old song by the Temptations? Also known as "My Girl"?

Well, my guy presented me with a light box beaming out a powerful 10,000 lux, which I've been using every morning. Sunshine bright!! I've positioned it over my lap top, so the middle of the screen is at eye level about 12 inches away from my face -- nice for illuminating my morning SP login while I sip my coffee and scan the newspaper, Charlie curled up at my feet!

There's a lot of interesting research on the use of light boxes for treating a wide range of full blown clinical issues including depression, seasonal affective disorder, jet lag, shift work disorientation, post partum, PMS and even senility. Here's a link if you'd like to read more: there are a couple of scholarly articles and the second one in paricular cites the literature quite thoroughly.


As for me, I'm pretty sure that I don't have any of these clinical conditions. But I am the original sunshine girl -- love sunshine, crave it, thrive on it. When other people want to be closing the blinds, I'm basking in it. Generally speaking, people tell me that I've got a pretty sunny disposition. (Dunno, but I've been spontaneously nicknamed "Sunny" in so many different contexts, from little girl days onwards, that maybe there's some truth to it.)

Anyhow, April through September mornings after the gym often find me and Charlie on our east-facing verandah with my coffee and newspaper. But no question even for sunny types it's harder to feel sunny when there isn't any . . . um . . . sunshine. For weeks. For months. Which had made me curious about use of a light box to help me keep my mood upbeat during our long cold dark winters, when day after day we head off to work in the dark and come home again in the dark.

But there's more. In addition, light box therapy may help with winter weight loss or weight maintenance. That's because sunlight deprivation seems to be associated with carb bingeing. Apparently there is some research evidence that the long dark days tend to trigger a craving for more comfort foods . . . and more sleepiness too (so less exercise). The big ol' bear hibernation effect, I suppose. We are circadian-sensitive mammals, so that makes some sense to me!

Added on to my multivitamin and extra vitamin D and calcium, I'm now experimenting with 20-30 minutes of 10,000 lux light box exposure early every morning . . . getting my days off to a bright start So far, it does seem to be waking me up, cheering me up, and helping with the excess carb control.

The light box was a total surprise from my guy. Truly, I've now got some sunshine on a cloudy day. In the words of another fine old song, it makes me happy when skies are grey -- which as I mentioned (yeah, I know I mentioned it, wasn't whining, just mentioned it) is in this part of the world at this time of the year, kinda constant.

So I do appreciate the thoughtfulness of this gift. I do appreciate the sunshine. And if in addition the light box can also help me control the carbs, emerging from hibernation without any extra winter weight would make me even happier!!

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

MYOWNHERO 1/5/2011 5:06PM

    What a lovely gift!

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    What a great gift! The closest thing I have is a mirror over my sink with a grow light over that - that way every time we do dishes we are awash in full spectrum light.

You've been the sunshine in more than one of my cloudy days... you deserve all the luminousness your boy can pour on!
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CMB2048 1/3/2011 10:50PM

    You always sound "sunny"! LOL! I hate winter because it is so dark. Have not tried a light box. Let us know how it works out!

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PHEBESS 1/3/2011 9:24AM

    What a brilliant gift!

And I can certainly attest to cold weather/less sun equating to more carb ingestion - we certainly are doing that in Spain!!!!!

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IMAGINE_IT 1/3/2011 8:40AM

    How thoughful of your guy..and how sweet!! I am the opposite of you..love the dark (that is one reason why i work nights) gloomy and rainy days..i do not like to sit out in the sun at all...and carry sunglasses everywhere i go...but i find this 'lightbox' and the research behind it very interesting..and if you say it helps with 'moods' and curbs carbs??!! WOW!! then i may have to start looking into this. emoticon
Thank you for this info..now here is some of the plenty sunshine from Texas for you emoticon emoticon

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FROSTIERACES 1/3/2011 1:37AM

    I heard light boxes do wonders for people for various reasons! You're so lucky to have one...nice hubby! Thank you for the sweetest comments and compliments on my pix and blog! I'm a very happy woman these last couple days!

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/3/2011 1:28AM

    And it helps to have such a thoughtful guy around the house. emoticon emoticon

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DBCLARINET 1/3/2011 1:17AM

    Cool gift! I remember when I moved to Texas feeling like every day was awesome because there were big blue skies and plenty of sunshine. My husband hated the lack of seasons, but I thrived in the sun!

When we were high-schoolers, my room was on the main floor and my brother's room was in the basement. He'd even board up the little window he had so that he could have perfect darkness and sleep as long as he wanted. Now, my husband and I are using the basement room until we get stationed, and I can't stand it! Where's my waking up to sunshine? Can't. Stand. It!

I got a sunrise lamp sometime in my undergrad as a Christmas gift, and I love it. I'm not sure I'd ever wake up before the crack of dawn without it.

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PENNYAN45 1/2/2011 7:38PM

    A light box! It sounds very interesting - and useful.
What an enlightened gift from your husband!

Happy New Year, Ellen. May 2011 bring blessings to you and your family.

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TBANMAN 1/2/2011 7:05PM

    That is a great gift. And being on the lovely Wet Coast of Canada, I know what you're talking about with our dreary winters. Luckily Vancouver has been basking in sunshine for a few days now. Such a lovely treat!

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WALKINGANNIE 1/2/2011 6:13PM

    What a great gift. Hope you and Charlie benefit from it throughout the year.

Thanks for all your encouragement and inspiration Ellen and all best wishes for a happy healthy 2011.


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VALERIEMAHA 1/2/2011 3:08PM

    Mmmmmmmm...you have less sunshine up there in those northern clime than I do here in the mid-south, though it doesn't take much time at all without El Sol for me to start feeling deprived.

I LOVE that song, My Girl, such a great smooth beat! And Your Guy sounds purdy durned loveable as well, Ellen, coming up with such a useful and unique gift for His Girl!

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FRACTALMYTH 1/2/2011 3:08PM

    Woohooo :D Sounds fantastic... we've had plenty of lovely sun last few days at 37+ C, making up for lost time... today is back to clouds and rain though. Sunny suits you perfectly! I'll remember that :D

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JOPAPGH 1/2/2011 3:05PM

    Sounds like a great way to start the day!

Have a great 2011!

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This Will Be the Year That . . . .credit JGRIFF2712's blog

Friday, December 31, 2010

I will turn 60!! And how is that possible?? Gotta be delusional: almost-sixty still feels so so young, yes it really does!! Although if you'd told me that 60 could feel young when I was 25, I'd never have believed it. But given that I really am almost 60, I do have a substantial past and so I will reflect on what I've done and where I've been, keeping in mind: "The past was the best thing that could have happened to me". Even for those parts of my past where believing that to be so is a willed choice . . . I'm choosing to believe it.

I will actively seek out every opportunity every day to notice and to value all that is beautiful, all that is meaningful, and all that is zest-inducing in my life as I experience it: "The present is the best thing happening to me". Yeah!!

And: I will continue to maintain my weight loss and fitness levels: nothing new, but for me this will always be one of the toughest goals of all. It's not trivial, it's essential because I am a body and I cannot value my past or experience my present without cherishing the body that carries me forward into the future. Keeping on keeping on, keeping as healthy as it's possible for me to be. Exercising eternal vigilance to avoid the temptation that I know I can't resist. Exercising of the cardio and strength-training varieties too because (as I read in the Toronto Globe and Mail this morning), the unexercised life is not worth living. The unexercised life really is the unexamined life. Eternal vigilance and exercise so that "The future is the best thing that's going to happen to me".

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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

PHEBESS 1/3/2011 9:22AM

    Isn't it amazing that we don't feel as old as our years seem???? Always blows me away that I'm approaching that same year (albeit a few years to go)...........when did 60 become NOT old?????

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IMAGINE_IT 1/3/2011 8:33AM

    60?? No way!! You look beautiful..and as they say..60 is the new 40??? You wear it well!! I am fast approaching 60..and even though i am a little scared of getting old..er i will try to embrace it and live like there is no tomorrow!!(especially now!!)Thank you for this wonderful blog Ellen..Happy and healthy New Year 2011 to you emoticon emoticon

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FROSTIERACES 1/3/2011 1:42AM

    "actively seek out every opportunity every day to notice and to value all that is beautiful, all that is meaningful...."
I love this. It really helps to just take those moments to stop and take in our surroundings, there is so much beauty everywhere. Have you ever watched the movie.."What the Bleep do you Know?".....I highly recommend it....it's amazing. Hubby and I are going to watch it again to absorb more of the messages the doctors were getting across. Hoping you have a Great Week ahead! :)

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VALERIEMAHA 1/2/2011 3:15PM

    I'll stick with the Present, thank you! Ahhhh...it's all just play on words anyway. But seriously, I'll be SIXTY NINE in less than two months and I TOTALLY feel AT LEAST 25 years younger than that...in my energy, health, sense of adventure, etc. But I DEFINITELY don't look any younger than my actual age, and I've become MOST invisible in this youth-and-beauty obsessed culture. And that's no fun!

But in any case here's to a great quality of life as long as we life because of loving and mindful self-care!

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TRAVELGRRL 1/2/2011 2:15PM

    The future IS the best thing that is going to happen to us! What a great reminder that losing weight isn't about looking good in the end, it's about taking care of the body that is going to carry us into the future.

I love this. Thanks for your insight. Now I must get down to the treadmill!

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BRIGHTSPARK7 1/1/2011 10:47PM

    It's going to be a wonderful year, Ellen. You are the present you've been expecting. emoticon Cheers! emoticon

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TRYINGHARD1948 1/1/2011 7:40PM

    I so know how you feel. As I looked around at church this morning I saw all these elderly ladies and thought - "Surely I am no one of these lovely ladies!?!?!" But truth is I am fast approaching that stage and I still feel like a twenty year old. Long may we be young in spirit and work as hard as possible to have a flexible, healthy body. Go, girl, go! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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KALIGIRL 1/1/2011 1:17PM

    Me too!

"The unexercised life really is the unexamined life."

Love it! The ancient Greeks believed motion meant soul. While they disagreed on where the soul went after this life, to move was to live.

Here's to living 2011!

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BARBIETEC 1/1/2011 12:17PM

    I loved what you said ""The past was the best thing that could have happened to me"


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CMB2048 12/31/2010 6:09PM

    And This Will Be the Year That.....I turn 50! And I can't believe that this year is here! I used to figure out when I was young what year it woudl be when I turned 50 and it was so far away I couldn't relate. Hard to believe it is upon me! Beautiful blog and thoughts I need to remember this year. Here's to a great New Year ahead!

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FRACTALMYTH 12/31/2010 6:08PM

    Yay you! You are right - this will be an AWESOME year! Big HUGS :D

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JUNEBUG150 12/31/2010 5:18PM

    Good for you! I am 60 and I agree with you that I still feel very young, too. Of course a few short months ago before I started changing my lifestyle I couldn't say that. I hurt a lot and would get short of breath if I had to walk up steps, etc. I'm very thankful for spark people and the great support that I get on this site. Have a wonderful, healthy and happy new year. emoticon

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Christmas Eve at the Dog Park!

Friday, December 24, 2010

My son and I took Charlie to the off-leash dog park this afternoon for a long romp this afternoon: he loved it! So did we.

The place was teeming with other similarly-beloved dogs: pugs, a beagle, a South African Babul (?? big sweetie, like a fawn Great Dane with jowls. . , never heard of it, can't find it on google, but that's what his peeps told us), an Australian shepherd, two other goldens, a chocolate lab, a Boston terrier-type (but beige rather than black and white) and lots of assorted "originals".

Our fenced dog park area is a generous size and an interesting terrain but quite a long hike away from the parking lot. We took the route through the woods to get there: up and down steep hills. The white pines were heaped with snow, the sun dappling through their trunks.

Charlie certainly knew where we were headed and wanted to zoom as quickly as possible: easier for him than us with his claw-equipped traction paws!! But he waited for us as necessary, smiling and wagging every step of the way.

We rewarded him for his patience with two complete circuits of the dog park path and lots of play time. Then took a different long route back, this time beside a gurgling brook with acrobatic chickadees on the overhanging branches.

The new happiness research tells us what we already knew: doing stuff creates more pleasure than acquiring stuff. I'm pretty sure that the hike through the sunny woods to the dog park with Charlie and Dave will be one of my best memories of this holiday season.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FROSTIERACES 1/3/2011 1:46AM

    Charlie is a smart dog! I think he may kinda love you and your son a wee bit!! Thanks for sharing the story :)

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KALIGIRL 12/30/2010 4:53PM

    What wonderful memories - we had a houseful and I will count it as one of the best Christmases ever. Here's to living life!

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STLRZGRRL 12/28/2010 10:30PM

    Yep, yep, yep!

Once again, Ellen, you hit the nail squarely on the head...

Charlie and your son and you each got an incredible gift... a wonderful day with each other...

And we know every day IS a gift... and that's why it's called...

wait for it...



I love that one... it gets me every time!!!

Happiest Holiday EVAR, Madam! I am honored to accompany you on this unfolding journey!

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TEENY_BIKINI 12/28/2010 8:08PM

    Dog parks sound so cool. Can you go without a dog?


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FRACTALMYTH 12/28/2010 4:33PM

    How lovely! Yeti bought the boys a surprise Christmas present - a lifesize German Shorthaired Pointer dog-doll (Yeti used to breed them). The idea was to see if the boys really wanted a dog lol... it was a HUGE hit :D

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CMB2048 12/28/2010 1:17PM

    Sounds like a wonderful time.

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GOING2LOSENOW 12/25/2010 11:58AM


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TKADEEPBREATH 12/25/2010 11:56AM

    Oh I love this blog . . . . I'm so with you on that thought. Our dog Chloe has been in doggie "boarding school" since October. It was either get her trained or put us both out of our misery!! Sad to say, not kidding. She was uncontrollable and you can't have a big powerful animal like that. It's just too hard. We got to visit her yesterday for the first time to see about her progress and I'm very pleased. She's "off leash" and heels and will come when called. Pretty awesome. The last thing they are working on is some "house manners". Can't have enough of them I always say . . . Lol. Have a wonderful Christmas . . . talk soon friend . . . Toodles, Jan

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GROEDER 12/25/2010 6:36AM

    That sounds like a great time for everyone!!!! Otto would live a place like that. I'm glad you had that quality time together.
Merry Christmas to you and your family.

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VALERIEMAHA 12/24/2010 5:26PM

    And I'm pretty sure you're spot on about that! Wonderful prose about a fabulous day!

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Above the pines the moon was slowly drifting . . .

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

. . . . when I got out of bed at about 2:30 a.m. to check out the winter solstice lunar eclipse.

The moon was a moody dark orange with a bright penumbra of light. Brilliant stars spread across the cloudless night sky, our birch tree a white skeleton. Behind it the forest of tall red pines soughed in the wind, laden with snow. The air was so cold it sparkled and tingled in my nose.

I was not here the last time this happened. I'm not at all likely to be around the next time it occurs either.

And so yes, it was worth stumbling out of bed, sliding my feet into my sheepskin slippers, wrapping myself in my dark green dressing gown and stepping out onto the back deck.

Yes, it was.

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

LUNADRAGON 12/22/2010 9:36PM

    Your words are picturesque. When I looked outside, it was happening, all was really dark - but it was too cold for me to venture out. My husband who works night shift saw it though and told me about it. Your words are lovely, thank you for sharing.
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TEENY_BIKINI 12/22/2010 7:54PM

    That was so beautiful - I could "see" every detail as you described it.

I can only imagine how amazing it was in person.

Well done :)


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COLONELD1 12/22/2010 9:59AM

    We had cloud cover, where I live(CO) I stumbled out of bed and it was dark...but at 0400 Mr Moon was shining brightly through the windows, illuminating the pines and just beautiful emoticon

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TRYINGHARD1948 12/22/2010 1:40AM

    We had cloud cover but your description was so beautiful I could almost see it. Thank you.

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FRACTALMYTH 12/21/2010 8:36PM

    The sun hadn't set here yet, and the crescent moon swam in and out of clouds. You could not see anything spectacular... but the rest of the night and into the early morning she swam serenely through the skies, full and brightly polished, every detail of her face lit up in high detail. It was like she was making up for lost time :P

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PHEBESS 12/21/2010 6:40PM

    Now I really regret not having gotten up for this!

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HARISHABAD 12/21/2010 5:46PM

    Ah, I was wondering if this was all happening at the same time, or if it depended on where you were...your blog answered my question.

In the west, the event started at 10:30 and totality was at 12:07. I got out of bed, bundled up at 11:20 and was so grateful for the clear night. No fog, what a treat, in Oregon, in December yet!

The moon was high in the sky and yes, not full but a beautiful curving crescent. I snuggled back into bed and and got back up right before midnight, waking the family. Everyone came out and looked but daughter Rachel, who crawled back into bed. By that time it was much darker, and the disk of the moon was almost obscured.

What a treat! I mused that this event must have caused many witches to be burned in 1638, the last time around. How much, and so little, the world has changed.

Peace, and Happy Solstice to you!

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VALERIEMAHA 12/21/2010 5:22PM

    Oh my, like DG I got no views here. And your prose so beautifully describes a viewing of a lifetime. Thanks for sharing that.

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    Mmmm.... I just read this through several times. Every word was perfectly chosen and perfectly ordered.

When I rose I could see nothing but the snow storm.... so I caught some of the flakes on my tough, said hello to all my friends around the world who were looking up at the same time, said a little prayer for peace and went back to bed.

I am so happy you shared your better view with me.
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