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I love Germany

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

So, this morning I left my groovy, neoprene, imported-from-the-USA, BUILT lunch bag on the train. Funny, because I usually have so much to carry and I remember to gather all my things before I get off. But today, I only had my shoulder bag and the lunch bag and somehow left the latter at my seat. I didn't notice till I got to work because there was some kind of technical problem with the trains and I had to make a different connection, using the underground.

Losing the bag made me sad. I reeeaaaalllly love this lunch bag - it's really practical and I love the colors. They make me smile. My forgetfulness also frustrated me. Life is hectic enough these days without my creating more problems, even small ones.

HOWEVER, in Germany the train system has a pretty efficient lost-and-found system. (Ask me how I know!) So I called this morning, gave them a complete description of the bag and registered my loss. The woman gave me a "Verlustmeldungsnummer" (loss registration number).She also told me, without any humor at all in her voice, that I could not expect to get the turkey chili back that was packed in the bag for my lunch. She was pleasant enough, very efficient and what the Germans would call "sachlich."

A little while later, I got an email telling me that the bag hadn't been found yet, but that I would be notified when/if it was. After work, I decided to stop by the office at the train station on the way home, on the off chance that someone had turned it in there.

HA! They had it! I almost didn't get it back because the description the woman had entered said it was a "handbag" instead of a "shoulder-strap" bag. But the civil servant released it to me anyway because my description (blue neoprene with multi-colored dots and the brand name BUILT) SOMEHOW convinced him that it was indeed my bag. I even got back the plastic freezer container - without the chili but rinsed out!

Sometimes German bureaucracy can be frustrating but on days like this I'm grateful for it!

Here's a picture - and no, I don't work for BUILT, I'm just a fan of their lunch bags!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

CYCLINGSANDY 9/24/2013 4:26PM

    I do love the lunch bags, and the German train system. I can almost hear the tone of voice from the first person that assisted you. I might have spoke to her too. At least I think I did when you refused to let me get off the train at my stop. I had to ride to the next stop and double back.

I am glad you were reconnect with your prize possession.

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EBLOOMING 9/23/2013 2:33AM

    I like this blog!!! Receiving the bag back builds faith. Happy bag, happy you!!! emoticon I think that is true about having a mental note of how many items you are carrying. If I walk out the door carrying three items which is my usual number than on the day I would take four items I walk out the door with out my purse because I have three items. emoticon

Comment edited on: 9/23/2013 2:34:19 AM

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ZANNACHAN 9/19/2013 2:11PM

    I'm so glad that you got it back!

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MTNGRL 9/18/2013 3:18PM

    Very nice bag and what a pleasant surprise it was returned. I won't ask how you knew they were very efficient at finding lost items lol!
Once my son lost his Goofy Dog at a park ride in Disney. We went back to the ride and someone had turned it in. The day was saved as far as I was concerned.
Yeah for the kind people all over the world.

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GOULDSGRANITE 9/18/2013 12:34PM

    What you go thru to share your healthy lunch!!! Faith restored in humankind!!! CUTE Bag!

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CAROLYN0107 9/18/2013 9:05AM

    Nice bag! I'm glad you got it back.

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DLG0505 9/18/2013 3:21AM

    That's so awesome! I love that lunch bag - it's so cute. No wonder you wanted it back so bad. Glad it all worked out good for you.

Have a happy Wednesday!

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CHERIRIDDELL 9/18/2013 1:00AM

    Lovely bag! I lived in Baden-Baden for three years .I love Germany!

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RUNNERRACHEL 9/17/2013 4:43PM

    That is so great! What a wonderful story.

Thank you for sharing.

What an amazing, honest, efficient way of being.

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LOOKINGUP2012 9/17/2013 4:14PM

    That's one beautiful bag. So glad you got it back!

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JANETELIZABETH1 9/17/2013 3:50PM

    I think it somehow restores our faith in mankind when we get something returned that was special to us...glad it was given in at the station so you the bag could continue to make you emoticon

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RURAL3 9/17/2013 3:20PM

    That is amazing. Wonder if the grumpy lady ate the chili? lol It is a very nice looking bag.

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IFDEEVARUNS2 9/17/2013 2:54PM

My mom once left her wallet at a restaurant along the autobahn. There was a fair amount of money in it. She got it mailed to her a week later, with the money still there!

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VISUALLYRICS 9/17/2013 2:25PM

    emoticon completely GrOoVy shoulder bag! ....so glad you found it!

I agree with you, Michelle: "Wie fantastisch dieser Tag ist!" emoticon

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JOANNKW 9/17/2013 2:24PM

    So glad you got it back. I have a theory about carrying stuff hither and yon. I used to frequently forget my Thermos on Wednesdays. I finally figured out that I had a mental number of items to take home from work (purse, thermos and lunch bag). On Wednesdays, I was taking Pilates, so I also had my exercise bag (I'd change at work before leaving). I would leave w/ work clothes, purse and lunch bag - no Thermos. I never stopped to count, it was all muscle memory almost. I suspect you left your lunch for the very same reason - you knew you didn't have that much stuff, and you didn't automatically get everything as a result!

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    So happy you got your lunch bag back. It's so frustrating to lose special items.

It is a very cute little bag. I have never heard of Built before. I am going to google them now.

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One year ago today...(long!)

Sunday, September 15, 2013

A year ago today, early on a Friday morning, my father died one month after suffering a debilitating stroke. Although his speech was severely impaired, and he had difficulty swallowing and walking without assistance, we had hopes that he would recover. But he contracted pneumonia while in the hospital. This weakened him even more but he continued to struggle to regain some mobility. Even the efforts of the staff of the rehab facility where he spent his last few days were not enough to turn things around. Mercifully, he died peacefully. The attending nurse had gone to his room at around 5AM to give him his meds and wasn’t able to wake him.

I say mercifully, because I believe that Dad would not have wanted to continue in the state he was in. He was fiercely independent and would have fought any efforts that he perceived to take away that independence. I sometimes wonder if, in those last few days, he realized that he would no longer be able to paint, and stopped fighting against the approach of death. In an interview with the local newspaper the year before he died, he had said, “when I quit painting, I’ll quit being here.” A long-time – over 40 years – resident, he was widely known and respected for his dedication and artistic talent.

Although he was 87, he still went to his studio almost every day. With the passing years, the hours spent standing at the easel had shortened and the coffee breaks had gotten longer. It was evident that he missed my mother intensely. He spoke of her often. Keeping busy helped keep him going. There were plans for future paintings, trips and other projects. He talked of closing the gallery and working at home, but hadn’t quite made the break yet. In fact, there was a large commissioned land- and seascape in progress when he suffered the stroke.

After he died, I decided to keep his gallery open for the winter season while I spent the months clearing out the condo, handling other estate business, and working part-time at a local retail store. It was a difficult time but also very gratifying. Sometimes I had to be the one to break the news of his death to a long-time customer or friend. Other times, people would come by to pay their respects and tell their favorite stories of time spent with him, with my mother. Many talked about how much they treasured the prints or paintings that they had bought over the years. “Grief shared is grief diminished” as the saying goes (Rabbi Grollman). I consider it a blessing to have experienced this first hand, especially during those months in Florida.

I’ve been back in Germany now for about three months. Like my father, I’ve found that keeping busy is a good way to keep the sadness at bay. Being too busy, however, just masks the pain, so I also make efforts to write about it, to talk about it, and to let the tears flow when they come. Losing both parents within such a short time – and saying goodbye to the home they loved and shared – has been very hard.

I find comfort in knowing that my emotions will heal. This has been a detour in the road of my life, but the road goes on. God hasn’t abandoned me and his purpose and plan for me are not at an end. There are times when I wish he would turn up the lights so that I could see down the road a little further. But that’s what faith is about and I need to exercise that faith, trust in him, and keep doing the next thing until his direction becomes clear.

Thanks for reading!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

JERSEYGIRL24 9/21/2013 9:09AM

    Beautiful blog, Michelle! So hard it has been a year (my father died two days before yours).

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ANGORA4 9/16/2013 9:24PM

    Amazing post, what a tribute to your family. emoticon

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FRANNIEDID 9/16/2013 3:29PM

    I can't believe it has been a year, I am sorry for your loss. I lost mom so recently that I am just getting over the numbness that I felt. I do miss her and my dad, I know how you feel! Know that your father and mother are with you and will live in your heart forever. I often said when my dad passed that he left a huge hole in my heart that I filled with loving memories.

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JOYLJL 9/16/2013 8:31AM


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EJOY-EVELYN 9/16/2013 1:08AM

    What a beautiful blog and tribute to your great family. God great favor is yours this day and every day. I'm so incredibly blessed to have some of your father's talented work. Hug, hug -- Evelyn

Comment edited on: 9/16/2013 1:09:27 AM

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MARYANNSQUEST 9/15/2013 8:07PM


Thank you so much for your wonderful moving memory of your father. My mom passed 10 years ago in March and I still go thru all my memories each time I think of my mom, which is daily because of a recipe or a croqueting project I am working on. I still feel her presence. May you find peace and remember he will always be in hearing distance with God by his side.


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KATESQUEST 9/15/2013 6:35PM

    I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story. I loved hearing about your father's love for painting and I can read your love for your father. It has been 12 years since my own father passed away. I still miss him. My prayers are with you that you find comfort when you need it, sweet memories when you are missing him, and peace always.

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 9/15/2013 2:55PM

    Oddly, my father died two years ago today on Sept. 15. I've been thinking of my dad a lot today and it makes a lot of sense to me that you chose to blog about your father today.

He sounded like a very interesting and hugely talented man. I think we were both fortunate to have such wonderful fathers.


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GOULDSGRANITE 9/15/2013 2:20PM

    Blessings to you Michele! DH and I have just spent seven years taking care of our elders. We will be married eight years in December. Three months after we were married, Dave's dad passed unexpected. Six months later my Dad had a stroke and passed in another six months. We found out how severe Mom's alzheimers was at that point and she lived on with us for almost six years. Then Aunt Vera suffered a stroke and the miracle was she was able to come to us and live on 5 1/2 more years. I am just coming thru all of this myself, and I tell you my story to heal and share that you are not alone in your grief. Everyone around us is so happy we are "finally free" and yet I am just trying to rest and take care of DH and I in our grief. We are all strong. I am able now to appreciate what we have been thru as God's flow and not a detour. That will be my hope for you. Thanks so much for writing about your Dad and Mom. They must have been very fascinating folks. What we have been thru is transforming what will surely be the best days of our lives! Peace, JDawg emoticon emoticon emoticon

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CAROLYN0107 9/15/2013 12:32PM

    Thanks for sharing your story. I've lost both parents, my Mom when I was 21 and my Dad when I was almost 55. It does help to talk about them and your loss. You have the Lord to comfort you during your times of grief.

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VISUALLYRICS 9/15/2013 12:04PM

    emoticon for sharing your heart so beautifully, Michelle. I hope writing about your dad brings peace. emoticon

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LIVE2RUN4LIFE 9/15/2013 11:58AM


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LIGIRLATHEART 9/15/2013 11:52AM

    Michele - that was beautiful and poignant.

My Mom passed away over 5-years ago at age 70. It was really rough. And since my Dad is six years older, I was "waiting for the other shoe to drop" for those first few years after. I am truly blessed to still have this man, at age 82, in my life -- I don't take that for granted for even one day.

With your permission, I would like to share your blog with my sister-in-law, who recently suffered the loss of her husband, age 51, after a brief illness. I think that your words will resonate with her, and help in her grieving process.

Michele, I wish you peace as you continue to heal and navigate life without your parents physical presence. When my father-in-law greeted me after my Mom's death, he told me that now I have an "in" with the man upstairs. I feel my Mom's love and presence continually in all that I do. I hope you feel that same loving embrace.


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ALICEART2010 9/15/2013 11:51AM

    Love you! I am so sorry about the loss of your parents. I too am dealing with the loss of my mom & cry often because I miss her so.

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Friday, September 13, 2013

Tomorrow will be a much-needed free day after a strenuous week at work, and dealings with the lawyer, bank and real estate people who are back in Florida working to get my parents' condo sold.

I've wavered on some of my September goals but am still hanging in there on most of them. One thing I need to do is rework my meal-planning and prep. I do well at the beginning of the week because I generally cook a big batch of something that will last for two or three days, cut up lots of veggies, and plan my work lunches. But by Wednesday, my "provisions" are used up and I sometimes end up grabbing a sandwich or something and have to guesstimate on the Spark tracker. Guesstimating is ok once in awhile, but right now I need to be more accurate if I want to take off the weight.

On a happier note - I FINALLY rode my bike this evening! It has been sitting in the cellar for years - literally, probably 10 plus years. And it's only been ridden a few times so it's really like new. Now that I'm doing without a car, the bike needs to be put to work. A neighbor took a look at it for me, and pumped up the tires. So tonight I went for a 20-minute ride and did it feel good! Wonderful to have a form of exercise that doesn't make my feet hurt! The plantar fasciitis is getting better but still not such that I can take extended walks or start running again. I hope the weather allows me to get out on the bike this weekend. I'm optimistic that this will boost my cardio minutes and calorie burn.
Woohoo! I can finally use this emoticon: emoticon

1. I tracked food and exercise but petered out on the food tracker toward the end of the week. Back on it tomorrow.

2. Still drinking about half the Coke Zero I was. Some days none at all.

3. Got in my 30 minutes of exercise a day. My feet (plantar fasciitis) are feeling better and I started biking! Did ST 3 times this past week, even if it was only 10 minute sessions!

4. No eating after 9 PM. Did pretty well on this except for Thursday night - was up late on the phone to the US and got hungry.

5. Oops - have been forgetting my vitamins.

6. Got 6 hours sleep or more every night. An improvement that I can definitely feel.

7. This may be my blog post for the week or I may post again over the weekend. We'll see - in any case, I hope it's a good one for you all!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

FRANNIEDID 9/16/2013 3:21PM

    I want to buy myself a bike but I am afraid it will just sit in my basement! Maybe I will get one and at least give it a try!!

Good for you, I have to agree, small steps lead to progress!

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GOULDSGRANITE 9/14/2013 3:48PM

    Great for your personal accountability! Woo Hoo! So joyous for your bike ride!!! You made me remember my first ride a year and one half ago. I hadn't ridden since jr high. At first I couldn't even turn my head to look back and was really shaky! The thing that kept me going was the absolute Joy and freedom I did experience. I continue to bike more and more each week. So great on your goals - you are rockin'!!! emoticon emoticon emoticon emoticon

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SIMPLELIFE4REAL 9/14/2013 3:20PM

    You actually did a very good job on a lot of your goals.

I'm delighted that you are rediscovering your bicycle. I love riding and look forward to doing it again.

My husband was just reading an article in our newpaper today that Robin Williams owns 50 bicycles. He used to love running, but switched to biking when he said he had too many aches and pains to run. Now, he is an avid bicyclist!

Bike on!!

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DDOORN 9/14/2013 9:00AM

    Great efforts and BIG WOO HOO'S to hopping onto the bike!


ps...thx for stopping by my blog!

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EJOY-EVELYN 9/13/2013 9:35PM

    Love the new icon for this fine accomplishment! Perhaps 2014 will be the year I refresh the tires on that old bike that sits in the garage. Keep trying new things and workin' those muscles in your feet and ankles that bring relief to the PF. I often work on rolling a tennis ball around while sitting at my keyboard. I often fidget with some of my feet exercises. I've been without ibuprofen for nearly ten years (but find myself more recently returning to a like product for the knees). Congrats of reaching new goals!

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VISUALLYRICS 9/13/2013 6:50PM

    emoticon ups and downs.....yes, but the nice part is that small steps lead to long term Progress! emoticon emoticon emoticon Michelle!

You're a gem! ~` Laura

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A pretty good week!

Sunday, September 08, 2013

Here's an update on my progress toward the fitness goals I set for September.

1. I tracked food and exercise every day except yesterday (Saturday) but I think I was within my ranges nonetheless, and posted on the 5% challenge thread as well.

2. I cut WAY back on the Coke Zero, drinking a glass here or there, but probably consumed half of what I have been drinking and had none at all on at least one day.

3. Got in my 30 minutes of exercise a day. My feet (plantar fasciitis) are feeling better and I hope to be getting back to longer walks, even running, soon.

4. No eating after 9 PM - to be honest, I forgot about this one, but I think I did pretty well, may have snacked but it was tracked!

5. Missed a day or two on the vitamins but I'm on it.

6. Got 6 hours sleep all but one night when it was only 5...working on this one, too.

7. Blog once a week. - well, here you are!

Oh....and I lost a pound. emoticon

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

SPARTAN40 9/12/2013 9:34AM

    Awesome! you're doing great.....and I hope your feet are feeling better.

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CAROLYN0107 9/9/2013 8:43AM

    It looks like you're doing well. I've not been on the 5% challenge (Firecracker team) since I broke my knee in 2012. Maybe some day I'll try again.

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DDOORN 9/9/2013 8:34AM

    Terrific when our efforts are so nicely rewarded! :-)


ps...thx for swinging by my blog!

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CHERIRIDDELL 9/9/2013 2:09AM

    Wonderful progress !

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    LOVE that ur tradking !!! TERRFIC !!!! P emoticon 111

Also EXCELLENT on the sleep ! This is a GREAT WAY to lose ! Often at night I can be 2 to 5 lbs more if I sleep well ,,,, of course that's the AM First weighin, but IS A KEy to my recent Success !

LOVE that ur cutting way back on Coke Zero,,, the lack of this, will help bring DOWN those cravings for Sweet or salty or BOTH items. Remember there's NOTHING WRONG as says SPARKS on having something sweet now and then so keep us from binging.


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    emoticon emoticon emoticon
Awesome that you kept track on all your goals. Tracking on SP and 30 minutes of fitness a day ~ Woo HOO!!!!

Have a great week. emoticon emoticon

One pound down - Way to Go!!!!

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ALICEART2010 9/8/2013 4:12PM


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RUNNERRACHEL 9/8/2013 3:14PM

    emoticon on your successful week! emoticon

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VISUALLYRICS 9/8/2013 2:54PM

    emoticon Go Progress Maker! emoticon

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CYCLINGSANDY 9/8/2013 2:07PM

    You have made great progress this week. I hope your feet are feeling better this week, so that you can begin some great walking steps.


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September Goals

Sunday, September 01, 2013

Translation: Keep your head up!

I've had this postcard on my wall for several years. Time to take the advice - again!

I wanted to measure today but forgot and got dressed so will do that tomorrow. I like to do that first thing in the morning.

So, back to basics fitness goals for this month:

1. Track food and exercise daily, and post exercise on the challenge thread.

2. Drink more water and leave out the diet cola (once or twice a week is OK). I always get my 8 glasses of H20 but have been drinking too much Coke Zero for the caffeine.

3. 30 minutes of exercise a day. If the feet are giving me trouble, then do seated cardio a la Coach Nicole or ride my bike.

4. No eating after 9 PM.

5. Take my vitamins!

6. Minimum 6 hours of sleep per night. 7 or 8 is even better.

7. Blog once a week.

That's enough! When I think of the adjustments it will take to accomplish even these basic goals, it's kind of daunting, but I know it can be done. Rom. 15:13!

Have a great month, Spark friends!

  Member Comments About This Blog Post:

GOCALGAL 9/3/2013 12:37PM

    Just remember progress even if it is slow is PROGRESS!! emoticon Keep setting those goals and keep Sparking! emoticon emoticon emoticon Maria

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SPARTAN40 9/3/2013 10:51AM

    Great goals. If we focus on a few key habits and keep them in line, much progress will be made.

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CHERIRIDDELL 9/3/2013 12:40AM

    Fabulous goals ! Viel Gluck !

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JMCADE 9/2/2013 4:35PM

    Great Goals!

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RURAL3 9/2/2013 9:42AM

    That's a lot to start with but You can do it. emoticon

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CAROLYN0107 9/2/2013 1:04AM

    Best wishes on success at completing your September goals!

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PHYLISSCR 9/1/2013 6:06PM

    Wonderful goals, I need to do the same. emoticon emoticon

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EJOY-EVELYN 9/1/2013 5:06PM

    Great goals! Accountability with your faith, friends, and self are key!

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HIKING-4-ME 9/1/2013 8:27AM

    emoticon emoticon

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    emoticon Fantastic Goals emoticon
emoticon emoticon
Mary Ann

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RAPUNZEL53 9/1/2013 4:00AM

  Good Luck!

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GETTINGFIT4HIM 9/1/2013 3:55AM

  emoticon goals!! emoticon

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