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Joy!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

I've tried to visit lots of Spark buddies' pages to leave goodies and greetings but I may not make it around to everyone before the holiday. So, let me wish a very Merry Christmas to all those who celebrate! And much joy to all those who are anticipating a happy new year during this holiday season.

"Let every heart prepare him room..." is one of my favorite lines of one of my favorite carols. How do you do that?

I've been teaching English to a young Japanese woman this past week and we were discussing how holidays are celebrated in her country. She talked about the tradition of cleaning house before the New Year, as a symbol of making a fresh start.

I know that I have some baggage lying around that I don't want to take with me into the new year. And I'm not just referring to physical clutter. I want to make room for more of the joy of the Lord - the joy He wants to bring to my heart. Time to get rid of any fears, worries, hurts, and "stinkin' thinkin'" and let the Lord renew my mind.

What better time than the days between the holidays!? I'm glad that I have a light schedule at the language school in the week ahead so I can spend some time doing both kinds of housecleaning!

The past couple of weeks have been very busy and I haven't been on Spark much. Lots of reasons - or excuses? - including a bum knee (caused, I think, by my new insoles that are supposed to help with my foot pain?!) My motivation has been low and I've eaten too many sweets. Gained a kilo! Ugh - Not waiting till the new year to put an end to that trend! On the plus side, all the busy-ness has included extra teaching hours that have helped with finances. With tuition for my exams coming up, this is a GOOD thing.

I'm going to church this afternoon at 4PM, then will have Christmas Eve dinner with friends. (Today is the day that's celebrated here in Germany.) Tomorrow I'll be relaxing at home and starting that housecleaning process, as well as making calls to family and friends in the States. En -JOY- ing the day of Jesus' birth!!
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  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SIMPLELIFE4REAL 1/4/2012 7:14AM

    Thank you for the Spark Goodie! I was out of town on vacation (without my computer) for the past few weeks. I just got it yesterday. It was sweet of you. Hope you had a great holiday!

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RORYLYONS 12/25/2011 11:27PM

    I will be doing my decluttering soon...Amazing how one collects over time isn't it....Happy Holidays! emoticon

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NEWLIBRARIAN 12/25/2011 1:11PM

    Love Peace and Joy to you too.
Good Christian Men Rejoice!

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CTEMPLE 12/25/2011 7:27AM

    emoticon

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SJG1953 12/25/2011 3:10AM

    I think all of us could use more of the JOY that God wants to fill our hearts with, at least I know I certainly do! The enemy would steal that joy at every opportunity via all of the things you mentioned (fears, worries, hurts, and 'stinkin thinkin'). It is such a positive and motivational thought to join you and allow God to also renew my mind also of the same things! Thank you for sharing my dear friend! God's grace is sufficient and He will indeed help us accomplish this task! God bless you. Hugs, Shirley

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CYCLINGSANDY 12/24/2011 5:23PM

    My husband like to use the term, "stinkin thinkers" too. It is so easy to let others pull us down rather than us pull them up.

Yes, it is time to declutter and start this year new and afresh in Christ. I am so thankful that God gives us the chance to start over each time we really need to.

Blessings to you this Chirstmas season.

Sandy emoticon

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ASMPP1 12/24/2011 11:48AM

    Merry Christmas! Happy Holidays!

I will be decluttering along with you! Time for a fresh start!

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ABETTERSOUL 12/24/2011 11:42AM

    Michelle, Have a wonderful holiday!

I love how you made the comparison of decluttering and cleaning in the physical and in the spiritual. Definitely need to "clean house" in my heart and give more room to my Savior and Lord. Thanks for sharing and reminding us as to what is really the most important!!!

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VISUALLYRICS 12/24/2011 10:41AM

    Dear Michelle.....I will be decluttering right beside you. A fresh start must be a Gift of God - I intend to open and use daily.... Thank you for the reminder.

emoticon JOY - my mother's favorite word...and one of mine too!

Merry Christmas dear lady!! What a special gift you are to me! ~ Laura

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WALKINGBYFAITH2 12/24/2011 10:35AM

    What a wonderful way to accept the gifts of the season! I am so glad we have "met" on SP, and consider you a real gift in my life. Enjoy your time and celebrations!

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AGASSIFAN 12/24/2011 7:38AM

    Peace, Love and have a VERY Happy Holiday!

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Panda for Lunch!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

While I'm looking for ways to save time packing my lunches, some Japanese mothers are spending up to two hours preparing "bento boxes" for their children:

www.bbc.co.uk/news/magazine-16069217 emoticon emoticon

Have a blessed third Sunday of Advent as you prepare for the busy week ahead!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

ASMPP1 12/13/2011 11:09PM

    A lot of work

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RUNNERRACHEL 12/12/2011 12:01PM

    What a great idea! Yum!

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FRANNIEDID 12/12/2011 10:28AM

    I feel so inadequate! Gotta love the Japanese, I have a young friend who is teaching English in Japan and we so enjoy his blogs about his experiences. He has been there for 4 years now and speaks Japanese pretty well. He loves the people and their culture and it is fun to learn all about them through him.

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CAROLYN0107 12/11/2011 10:15PM

    I found this video quite fascinating. I lived in Japan for two years and had no idea of the work that went into the kids lunchboxes!

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NEWNAC304 12/11/2011 7:55PM

    I can't imagine spending 2 hours every day packing a lunch!

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TRYINGHARD1948 12/11/2011 6:42PM

    I feel so dreadful, how did my children survive with their VERY ordinary lunches. emoticon

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CTEMPLE 12/11/2011 4:20PM

    Dear M. Yes the Japanese are a people apart.
I didn't know you had mixed feelings at this time of year. I have started a couple of traditions to make it more fun and to see if my feelings can be improved too. But i get very tense at this time of year. Too much pressure to be happy and to have the perfect life and family. I'm quite happy but I certainly don't have a perfect life or family.
Claudia

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KALISWALKER 12/11/2011 2:56PM

    emoticon

The video was cute!

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VISUALLYRICS 12/11/2011 11:05AM

    I LOVE the creativity of motherhood!! LOL!! emoticon
What yummy looking lunches...and so healthy!

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HAKAPES 12/11/2011 10:19AM

    I want the piano!

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KITT52 12/11/2011 10:01AM

    emoticon

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KIPPER15 12/11/2011 9:24AM

    Like a holiday meal - hours to prepare - minutes to devour. emoticon

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NEWLIBRARIAN 12/11/2011 9:11AM

    2 Hours? WOW

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Swan Lake

Friday, December 02, 2011

I went looking for photos and found this 2 1/2 minute video clip on the Stuttgart Ballet website instead: www.stuttgart-ballet.com/home/

Just a few of my thoughts and impressions:

I was really inspired by the athleticism of some of the dancers, especially the male principal who played Prince Siegfried. He's a "hometown boy" but now internationally acclaimed, so he gets a big welcome when he dances here in Stuttgart.

The Odile/Odette was amazingly graceful. My friend said that her arms flowed like water. The other solo dancers were also very good, but she really danced on another level. She embodied the two characters and played out the contrast between the white and black swans so that my friend had to be convinced it was the same dancer.

Also impressively beautiful: The way the swans in the corps de ballet were synchronized - they really were like one "corps", one body.

Too bad WATCHING all that amazing dancing doesn't burn as many calories as the actual dancing itself! But I notice today that I'm a bit more aware of my body and how I move after 3+ hours of watching these disciplined artists at work.

Friday

Food Tracked: started to but then went to a birthday party
Within Range (1250 - 1550): Not sure, but close
Cardio minutes/ Calories burned: 25/ 180
ST: Yes
Vitamins: Taken!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

KALISWALKER 12/10/2011 6:39PM

    I love watching dancing too!

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NEWLIBRARIAN 12/6/2011 2:03PM

    I have felt that way after watching athletic things too.
I have always admired gymnasts.
Have only seen one ballet in my life. That was in Winnepeg. Romeo and Juliet. Juliet was amazing.

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VISUALLYRICS 12/2/2011 11:15AM

    Oh Michelle! I am glad you had a lovely time!
....to me the ideal body is a gymnast or ballerina!

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JOANNKW 12/2/2011 11:05AM

    I love Swan Lake - it sounds like you had fun!

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Regrouping

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Winter Challenge starts tomorrow, hurrah! Daily blogging has been starting to get old, although I SO appreciate all those who've been supporting me on this personal "In Between the Challenges" challenge. I'll continue to blog, of course, but will likely go back to a weekly rhythm - that works better for me.

Wednesday and Thursday were rather hectic. Wednesdays are super long days for me. I leave the house at 6 AM and get home at 10 PM. I did a pretty good job of meal planning which includes a mystery shopping trip to a really good restaurant. But I was still hungry when I got home and went over my range. That's what I get for eating so much on Tuesday - a stretched-out tummy asking for more food! On the plus side, Wednesdays involve a lot of walking!

Last night, I went to see Swan Lake with a friend - and we went to dinner beforehand. I made good choices, I think, but was, again hungry when I got home and too tired to track. (Note to self - get back in the routine of tracking the day before!) I'm sure I went over my range again, though. I did do my 30 minutes of exercise for the and got in a little ST before bed.

Friday agenda - Call DDad to see how his art opening went, return a key, make calls to organize tomorrow's caroling tour, mini-grocery run, P's birthday party this evening. OH, and Spark! Get in my exercise including ST and track it all, along with my food. Blog about Swan Lake! BBL!


Wednesday

Food Tracked: No
Within Range (1250 - 1550): Um, no
Cardio minutes/ Calories burned: 45/ 231
ST: No
Vitamins: Taken!

Thursday

Food Tracked: No
Within Range (1250 - 1550): Um, no
Cardio minutes/ Calories burned: 15/ 77
ST: Yes
Vitamins: Taken!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

IFDEEVARUNS2 12/2/2011 9:17AM

    Track the day before? I can't imagine doing that. So perhaps that's where I'm going wrong.

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NEWLIBRARIAN 12/2/2011 8:24AM

    Your keeping on keeping. March on through your busy life. WOW. I think I am busy but maybe not so much.

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GHOSTFLAMES 12/2/2011 7:18AM

    NO MATTER HOW BUSY WE HAVE TO MAKE TIME FOR US.'I EXERCISE IN THE MORNING RIGHT AFTER BREAKFAST THAT WAY IT IS DONE NO EXCUSES. TO DO THIS I HAVE TO GO TO BED A LITTLE EARLIER TO GET UP EARLIER.
GOOD LUCK AND WE ARE ALL HERE FOR YOU IF YOU NEED ANYTHING AT ALL JUST ASK TAKE CARE, CHAR

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NERVOUSWRECKIAM 12/2/2011 7:12AM

    You sound like a busy woman. Keep on trying!

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My former career

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

I've been doing some mystery shopping gigs lately. While it's been fun visiting some new stores and restaurants, I'm finding that it's just not paying off. Besides the time it takes to actually make the visits, It takes me ages to write the reports and fill out the questionnaires - in German, of course, which makes the process even more time-consuming.
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I thought that once I got the hang of it, it might go faster. But I'm not sure that I really WANT to get the hang of it. I know that what I'm doing is helping the businesses improve their service, but sometimes I feel like a tattletale! And have you ever started or been involved in a project or plan that just didn't seem to have God's blessing on it? I'm leaning in that direction concerning this mystery shopping thing.

Tonight was a restaurant visit. I really enjoyed the food and the restaurant itself. It wasn't far out of my way, so the travel time was minimal. But I overate. As part of my test visit I had to order salad, pasta, AND dessert with espresso. Normally, I would never order or eat that much at one sitting. It would be salad OR pasta and MAYBE share dessert with a friend. I paid for it and it was THERE (kind of like that climbing Mount Everest joke) so I ate it.
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I'm committed to visit a fresh fruit and juice bar on Monday, something that sounds more like it fits with my healthy lifestyle. But I'm thinking this will be the end of my mystery shopping career!
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Food Tracked: No
Within Range (1250 - 1550): No WAY!
Cardio minutes/ Calories burned: 30/ 154
ST: No
Vitamins: Taken!

  
  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JANETELIZABETH1 12/1/2011 3:09AM

    Interesting Michelle, I've never heard of such a thing! Sounds like a wise decision!

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ASMPP1 11/30/2011 7:16PM

    I did some of that a few years back. Not worth it to fill out the paperwork for what you get. You invest a lot of time. It is good to rate and help the business. At least you tried it and now you know how it feels. You can make an informed decision.

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TRYINGHARD1948 11/30/2011 4:06PM

    Hmmm, sounds as if this might be one job that doesn't quite suit your way of living. All the best, it can only get better, or worse, during this Christmas season.

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BOBBIENORTHERN1 11/30/2011 3:34PM

  I am so glad I read your blog becuause I have been so curious about mystery shopping.

Now, I know a little bit more and really do not think this is for me so I thank you so much for taking the time to share your experience because this has really helped me.

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REYNJANET 11/30/2011 10:55AM

    I've thought about doing that before too but after reading your blog I don't think it is the right thing for me to do either.


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KATHYKIM 11/30/2011 8:49AM

    Hi Michelle - I did on Mystery Shopping trip and that was enough. I did not enjoy it and when I figured out my actual "hourly rate", it was not worth my time. It is always fun to try new things though!

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SJG1953 11/30/2011 2:02AM

    I don't blame you for resigning your career as a mystery shopper. I have done that before myself and I must say I didn't like it either. God bless you greatly my dear friend! Shirley

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MOMFAN 11/30/2011 1:34AM

    Thought about doing that too, how did you get involved with them?

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NEWLIBRARIAN 11/29/2011 10:30PM

    I have thought about the whole mystery shopper thing. Not sure it would really suit me that well either. I hope the food was at least tasty.

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M77355 11/29/2011 8:25PM

    Ahhh I've always wondered about that! Potentially would some of your assignments be to restaurants where you would be comfortable asking for a 'doggie' bag?

I understand what you're saying about whether God's blessing is upon one's activities ... there were years that it wasn't even a thought ... but, thankfully, life is so much better now that His influence directs decisions!

Sadly the river trip next year won't be the same as my mom passed away on the 15th. However, we had that fantastic trip last year. Possibly G will be able to go instead and we can say hi!

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VISUALLYRICS 11/29/2011 7:27PM

    Wow...Michelle. What an interesting experience...too much temptation for me too.
Sounds like the end of this career...but who knows what the Creative Michelle will think of next!? .... emoticon...a pair of shades for discretion....and do keep us updated...it is so much FUN emoticon to share in your adventures!

emoticon on super tracking!! Go Firecrackers!! ~ Laura

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