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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Regrets--I've Had a Few...

(NOTE:   This is being written Monday night at 9:30pm)

I don't have to wait until tomorrow to know that I regret what I did tonight.  I ended things with Buddy.  My heart is breaking, but I had to do it for self-preservation.  I just couldn't deal with the idea of him being with/kissing/sleeping with other women.  I guess that it was ME that I was sure was going to get hurt--and I was right.  I know that we had only been seeing each other for a month, but like I said yesterday, nine or ten dates in a month made for a quick relationship. I wish I had infinite patience.  I do.  I wish I could have waited for him to experience other women and then come back to fact, I asked him to do just that.  I said that he should date a lot and that if he doesn't find a wonderful woman to call me.  Maybe he'll come back to me.  Or maybe I just "passed" on the most wonderful thing I've ever had...

And yes, I regret it.  You're probably wondering why I did this; why I didn't just let things continue--after all, we were at least dating.  I got to see him at least once a week, right?  We had fun at the movies, right?  He bought me beautiful roses.  All of these things are true.  But there's something truer.  I deserve to be the only one.  I do.  I deserve a man who sees me for who I am and who can appreciate the total package.  Who doesn't need other women to make him feel special or important or whatever. I don't deserve a man who makes me feel bad about myself because he has to see what else is out there...who isn't satisfied with all that I have to offer.  I deserve more.

Saying that--and believing it--is a big deal for me. The "old" Rhonda would've sat around waiting for his call, jealous and hurting but too afraid to say anything.  The "new" Rhonda realizes that she has a right to her feelings and that a truly GOOD man would realize that while she's not perfect, she is pretty damned good...

I'm sad.  Incredibly sad.  So I'm going to cut this short.  Have a terrific Tuesday, everyone...and I'll TRY to do the same.

Monday, January 30, 2012

The Buddy System...

I had a great time with "Buddy" at the movies, although I don't necessarily recommend The Grey.  It was dark, suspenseful, gory and used the "F-bomb" a LOT.  I literally jumped out of my seat twice!  It was my first time out with Buddy since we decided to see other people--well, he decided and I agreed to it.  I thought about it after leaving him--he and I met in person a month ago.  A MONTH ago today.  Just one month, and I think we've been out together eight or nine times.  No wonder he's feeling scared--we've crammed three months' worth of dating into a month!

My mother told me I should "play the field". She said that before she met my father, she dated three guys in one night! I don't know how she did it, given the fact that I'm struggling with two guys in one weekend!

I asked Buddy yesterday if he wants to be just "buddies".  I asked because this situation is making me crazy and because I want to be fair to him.  If we were buddies, we wouldn't have to worry about hurting the other...we could date other people and even talk to each other about it.  Of course, I don't really want to be just "buddies" with him...I think what we have is really special, but I care enough about him to give him the option.

Well, the good news is that he doesn't want to be just "buddies", either.  And he bought me roses!  And yet I have this gnawing feeling in the pit of my stomach that someone is going to get hurt.  I hope I'm wrong... In the meantime, please pray for me (if you're the praying type)that I'll be patient with this wonderful man while he works to figure things out.

I go to my surgeon next Thursday, February 9th, for my six-month checkup.  At that time, I'll get an "official" weight, but for now, according to my bathroom scale, I'm down 86 pounds.  86 pounds! Fourteen away from 100!!  So incredibly surreal!

Have a meaningful Monday!

Sunday, January 29, 2012

A Second Date and a First Kiss...

I had a great time in Virginia Beach yesterday!  We went to Ruby Tuesday's for lunch, (where I had grilled chicken, a few mashed potatoes and grapes--very good, except that they charge a $2.00 "upcharge" for anyone who's not a kid), then took the train into downtown Norfolk, where we walked the mall, and I bought the COOLEST nail polish at Nordstrom's.  (Yes, I paid way too much for it, but it's sooo cool!  It changes color--depending on how you look at it, like that customized car paint!!  It's aqua from one angle and lavender from another!)  After the mall, we took the train back to where the car was parked, and we then went to a park where we walked some more!  Then we went to the movies, where we saw "Haywire".  It was a pretty good movie, but the date was great.  John held my hand during the movie, put his arm around me on the way to the car and finally kissed me goodbye.  The kiss was nice--not insistent, no pushy tongue, just a lovely way to end a great day. 

Yes, I had fun, but of course I feel conflicted.  The idea of dating other people wasn't MY idea, but as long as that's what Buddy wants...Still, I'm a little concerned because it's pretty apparent that John likes me a LOT.  I don't want anyone to get hurt--not John, not Buddy and certainly not me!

While at Nordstrom's, I found a great pair of jeans--the brand is "Not Your Daughter's Jeans", which I think is hysterical.  Anyway, they were dark and gorgeous--but $120!  I don't know if I'd ever spend that kind of money on jeans, but especially not now while I'm still losing weight!  Maybe I'll eventually get there--to where I don't faint when I look at a price like that, but...I have to realize that I'm worth more than Walmart's $16 stretch jeans, but $120 seems an extreme, too...

Today is Sunday; I get to spend the afternoon doing what I love with Buddy--we're going to see "The Grey".  I really am looking forward to seeing Buddy--we always have such a great time together!  The movie looks intense but good.  I'll let you know!  Have a safe and special Sunday!

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Hold Me Closer, Tiny Dancer...

I bought Elton John tickets yesterday! I tried getting them online,but the system was SLAMMED!  So I decided while I was trying online, I'd also try on the phone.  It took 99 attempts but I got them!  Yay!  Originally, Buddy and I had talked about going together, but the concert is six weeks away, and who knows where our relationship will be then...

In the meantime, I'm seeing John today in Virginia Beach.  I haven't been to Va Beach in about 6 years, so I'm looking forward to the trip, plus he's a really sweet guy, so I know we'll have fun!  Additionally, I've already set a "coffee date" for next Saturday morning in Raleigh with another guy named John, and Cal in Myrtle Beach might get up here soon.  I've never dated so much in my life!

I have to say that it's weird to be going out with a bunch of men, especially since I like Buddy so much.  I wish that he and I had met at a different time, when we were both ready for something more serious.  But he's only been separated for six months, and I've actually been single just four months, although the truth be told, my relationship with James was over the minute he said he didn't know if he could be attracted to a thinner me.  Buddy thinks that I'm ready to settle down, but the truth is, I'm not.  Not really, I just don't know how to date "casually".  I've never done it.  I just came out of a three-year relationship--before that, I was single for about three years.  I just have never felt so comfortable with one person in my life; he and I really have something special--but maybe our timing will make it impossible to happen.

I'm going to work on this--just getting myself exposed to different guys from different backgrounds.  If nothing else, I should have some fun!!  And on March 16, I'll be sitting in the RBC Center listening to Elton John!  Yay!

Have a splendid Saturday, everyone! I love you much!

Friday, January 27, 2012

What a Difference a Day Makes...Revisited

When I wrote yesterday's blog, I was reeling a bit from my conversation with "Buddy".  He and I have been having a great time--apparently too great a time, because he's a little scared and wants to "slow down".  Well, given a good night's sleep, I realized that he's absolutely right! I need to explore my new life and the options out there; my dating "pool" is growing exponentially as I lose this weight.  Plus we're going to continue to see each other, so I'm going to see John on Saturday, Buddy on Sunday and who knows after that!

I had another epiphany today as well!  Today, Latishea wore one of the tops I gave her--one of my favorites: the purple and black big shirt.  I had tried it on the day before I washed it and packed it away for her--and I swam in it!  It was huge.  The top looked good on Latishea--and it fit her perfectly.  I've been feeling like she and I are the same size still, and today I realized that that just isn't true!  It really truly hit home; I have lost a considerable amount of weight!!

I know that sounds stupid inasmuch as I've lost more than EIGHTY pounds, but you have to understand that the numbers are meaningless.  Let's see if I can explain--for eight years, I drove a red Mitsubishi Mirage.  Then I bought a black Dodge Stratus.  For two years or more, I "felt" like I was still driving the Mitsu, and when I caught a glimpse of myself and the car in a store window, I was blown away.  I knew that I was in the bigger car, but I still felt like I was driving the little one.  Now I'm driving a bright blue Toyota Corolla, and I still feel like I'm driving the Dodge, even though I truly love my Toyota!

That's the way it is with this weight loss.  I love this new body, but I still think I'm "driving" the old one!  Just as I don't realize how small the Toyota is until I pull into a parking space, I don't realize how much smaller I am until I try to put "big" clothes on!

It's finally Friday, friends!!  Enjoy it! 

Thursday, January 26, 2012

New Jeans and Dating Drama promised, here's a photo taken at school today wearing the new jeans: 
I bought this top at Penney's in New York when I was home at Christmas, and it's already on the "too big" side.  Anyway, I think that this is a pretty good photo, but I'm going to include the one I took in the bathroom last night so you can decide which is better:
Both of them impressed ME, and I'm hard to impress!  But I especially think the one in my bathroom shows how flattering these jeans are!

"Buddy" and I have decided we've been moving too quickly, so we're going to slow things down by dating other people.  I've got a date Saturday with a man I've already been out with once. We had lunch two weeks ago, and he's very sweet--he even gave me a subscription to Women's Health as a "first-date gift" because he enjoys Men's Health so much, and he knows about my surgery and my quest for good health.

Dating is something I've never loved, but I guess that with this new body, it's something I'm going to have to get used to.  As I said in my love letter the other day, I know that I have a lot to offer to the right man, so I guess dating many men is the best way to find the right one!  Actually, I don't believe that for a second, but it seems that "Buddy" thinks finding the right woman means dating a lot of them, and I guess I SHOULD have other options, so...God, dating SUCKS.

Last night, I changed my relationship status on Facebook from "single" to "In a relationship" with myself!  Seriously.  I used the Facebook account I have for my students, so "Rhonda" is now in a relationship with "MsRhonda".    At least I'm now in a relationship with someone I trust!  LOL

It's Thursday, people; hope yours is thought-provoking and thanks-filled!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

"Stretching" the Truth...

In Tuesday's mail, I received a pair of black jeans that I (impulsively) bought online back in December.  They had to be back-ordered, and they arrived yesterday.  When I opened the package, I took one look at the seemingly small waistband and said, "No freaking way are these going to fit me."  Up until now, I've worn "stretchy" jeans--elastic waistbands and stretchy material.  I decided a month or so ago that I was going to get out of the habit of wearing stretchy materials that "give" because what they really give you is a chance to cheat!  If you are wearing tailored, structured clothing and you gain five pounds, you're going to know it when nothing in your closet fits!  But if you're wearing clothing that stretches, you can gain five, ten, even fifteen pounds before tightness prevents you from wearing those stretchy things!

I honestly cannot tell you the last time I had on jeans--or any other slacks, really--that zipped.  Can you imagine?  Maybe the 1980s?  I don't know if it was even then!  I wore stirrup pants and other elastic-waisted trousers for as long as I can remember!  Anyway, I unbuttoned and unzipped these jeans and completely convinced that they weren't going to fit, I tried them on.  And buttoned the button on that small waistband.  And zipped them up.  They fit!  And look pretty good, if I do say so myself.  I took a photo in my bathroom mirror which was okay for Facebook, but I'd rather wait and get a better picture to share here.  I'll ask one of my students to take it--yes, I'm wearing black jeans to school today--and will post it on tomorrow's blog.

Yesterday I wrote about lying to myself, and as I write this, I realize that stretchy clothing allowed me to continue to lie.  Well, no more.  The new jeans are just the first of an entire wardrobe of structured, fitted clothing that is going to keep me honest as I embark on this new life!  Oh, and as long as I'm being honest...these new jeans are size 16; at one point I was wearing a very tight stretchy 22-24!

Have a wonderful and winsome Wednesday!  

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Liar, Liar!

Before the surgery, I told a lot of lies.  A lot of lies. I lied directly to myself, and I guess I lied indirectly to other people by acting like nothing was wrong.  I lied about liking myself, about not caring that I was obese, that I looked good in clothing, that I wasn't worth having anyone good in my life.  And then I had the surgery, and a few miracles happened.

The biggest one isn't that I've lost 83 pounds (or so I think; I see the doctor in a couple weeks to get an "official" total), but that I've stopped lying to myself.  I see things more clearly--I can look in a mirror and can tell if something looks good or if I need to put something else on.  I've been able to look at old photographs of myself and see that those baggy tops didn't flatter me in the least, although at the time, I told myself they did.  I know that I look a lot better than I did five months ago, but I also know I have another 50 or 60 pounds to lose.  I do like myself today, and I do believe that I'm worth having someone good in my life.  I'm no longer going to "settle" because I don't have to.

And I've become a human lie detector.  Perhaps it's because I have so much experience telling my own lies, but I know when people are lying to me, whether the liar is an adult or one of my students.  And it may be rather ironic, but I hate liars.  I do.  I refuse to waste time on people who aren't honest.  Life is too short.  I'll give you the shirt off my back if you need it...until you lie to me, and then it's all over. No excuses.  Go lie to someone else.   

Whatever it is you want, set clear goals for yourself, but be honest.  If you weigh 300 pounds, you're not going to get down to 125 by summer, even with gastric bypass.  Be honest.  Maybe you don't really want to weigh 125, anyway.  Find your truth--and pursue it.  As soon as they hear about my surgery, people ask me about my goal weight.  I tell them the truth: I don't have one.  I don't.  In part, I never set a goal because I didn't have this surgery for aesthetics.  I had it because I was sick of being in pain.  I was sick of wondering if a chair was going to be too small to sit in.  I had it because I wanted to walk without assistance.  But I'll be honest with you--and myself--I like looking better!  I still don't have a goal weight--but mostly because I'm confident that my body will stop losing weight when I'm where I am "supposed" to be.

It's Tuesday; I hope yours is terrific--and TRUTHFUL!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A Love Letter

My dearest friend,
I'm writing this to tell you all the things I've never been able to say. 

First, I want you to know that I think you're amazing.  I do.  You have strength that seems unending.  You are smart, funny, attractive, and you have the biggest heart of anyone I know.  Little kids, whose opinions are honest, love you.  They are immediately and completely comfortable with you.  You are giving and loving, but I don't think you're as trusting as you could be.

When you went to college at age 30, I know you were terrified.  But look how well you did! You graduated with high honors and magna cum laude.  You should be so very proud!

I know that you had a difficult childhood.  Being molested by someone you loved and trusted was a horrible thing to have happen, but you have survived it with strength and grace.  I know that others have hurt you, especially your ex-husband and your ex-fiance.  Still, you seek out love--and that alone is commendable.

And now you've met someone special.  He's wonderful.  Sexy, sweet, funny. Let him in.  Trust him.  Let down your walls, love him and let him love you the way you deserve to be loved.  You deserve to be happy, so let it happen.

And last, but not least, I am sorry.  I'm sorry for all the times I criticized you or hurt your feelings.  I'm sorry I wasn't more supportive.  You are a warm and wonderful person who deserves the best in this life.  More than anything, I want you to be happy!
Love always,
Well, did you figure it out?  This love letter, which is VERY overdue, is to myself.  I needed to say these things to myself...I'm glad that I did. We wouldn't hesitate to tell these things to a friend, but when was the last time you told YOURSELF just how terrific you are?  Aren't you supposed to be your OWN best friend?  So, now for YOUR assignment.  (Oh, come on, you knew that there would be homework!)  I want you to write a love letter to YOURSELF.  Just like my letter, I'm sure that your love letter to yourself is very overdue!  So write it--if you dare.  I think you'll find it therapeutic--and maybe just a little bit of fun!  Have a marvelous Monday!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The Power of Protein

I'm supposed to eat 50-60 grams of protein every day.  I don't know that I eat that much every day, though. In as much as I can only eat a little bit at a time, it's tough to get that much protein in.  Friday night, "Buddy" and I went to Olive Garden, where he ordered the "Tour of Italy".  I ate about half of his chicken parmesan and a little bit of salad; no breadstick for me, thanks.  (Even though I love those breadsticks, bread is just too filling, and if I don't eat enough protein, I have no energy!)

I bought Atkins protein bars, and I try to supplement my protein with them--the chocolate peanut butter has 19 grams all by itself!  I can't eat a whole one in one sitting, but they are delicious.  I had a "caramel chocolate peanut nougat bar" for breakfast yesterday--it's smaller than the chocolate peanut butter, but it contains 10 grams of protein, which isn't bad.  For lunch, I took Buddy to Cary to Roma's Italian, so that he could try a spiedie sandwich. (I know I've mentioned them before, but for the uninitiated, spiedies are cubes of meat marinated in oil, vinegar or lemon juice and spices and then grilled and served on either sliced Italian bread or on a sub roll.)  We ordered two: chicken and pork.  I tasted the pork, but I ate half of the chicken spiedie--without the bread, of course. Buddy loved them and even ate my bread for me.  (What a trooper, huh?)   It was delicious, but I was really "bad"and tried to drink a root beer with my chicken.  

For those of you who don't know, gastric bypass patients aren't supposed to drink soda.  The bubbles are really hard to deal with.  I tried to stir out some of the bubbles, but I still had horrible gas pain after drinking about a quarter of the root beer.  I immediately regretted the choice and didn't finish the soda, of course. I guess that I had to try it.  Five months have passed, and I still have to try the forbidden! I'm still learning!

For dinner, he and I went to the "shiny diner" and shared pork chops and mashed potatoes.  The chops were huge--like the size of t-bone steaks!  I had just a couple ounces, about a third of his scoop of mashed potatoes, which were real potatoes and was totally satisfied.  I'm willing to bet that Saturday, I did get  my 50-60 grams of protein!

When I eat the right amount of protein--or even close to the right amount--I feel great! My energy levels are up, and I feel strong and happy!!  I feel unstoppable! 

Have a serene Sunday everyone--and thanks again for sticking with me!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homecoming and Coming Home...

I had a great time at Homecoming.  "Buddy" came to town, and he and I went to Olive Garden for dinner before going to school for the games.  Our junior varsity lost, but our varsity was victorious!  During halftime, I announced the candidates for prince and princess as well as for king and queen.  It went well, and the crowd seemed happy!

But one of the best parts of the night was seeing my "baby birds" and getting great positive feedback.  The most common greetings of the night were "Oh my gosh, I almost didn't recognize you!" and "you look great!"  It's an amazing feeling, I must say.  As I've said before, I haven't done well in accepting compliments graciously in the past, but last night, I just said "thank you."

It's late, and I'm tired, so I'm going to cut this short.  But I want to reiterate that if there's something holding you back, NOW is the time to get rid of it.  Perhaps it's extra weight, as it was with me.  Maybe it's lacking a degree or special training needed to get that dream job.  Maybe it's that dead-end relationship that both of you know is over yet neither of you is willing to take that first step.  NOW is the time.  I promise you--you won't regret it.  Once you stop being held back, there's nothing that can stop you!  Have a SUPER Saturday!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Holy Cow!! And Thank You!

The total hits on this blog surpassed 7,000 yesterday!  That's just amazing to me!  I am so grateful that you continue to read this; when I started it, I doubted that anyone would!  But I thank you SO much for your support!  Even if you don't comment, please know I know you're out there--and I appreciate your sticking with me!!

Today is the last day of Spirit Week...thank goodness.  I've actually had a lot of fun this year, and unlike previous years, I have participated every day!  I went tacky, as a twin and yesterday...yesterday I wore a "Juliet" dress for "Back in the Day"!  In years past, I might have dressed for "Twin Day" because Latishea and I have the same shirt, but I never would participate in Tacky Day or any other of the days.  I started thinking about it, and I'm sure the reason I didn't participate was because participants are usually photographed.  This year, I dressed out every day, was photographed every day and smiled widely for every photo.  See below!
This is a shot of me with one of my juniors, James.  I don't have to "modify" his picture like I did Buddy's because he's already in disguise! The Juliet dress is from about five years ago when we had a "Shakespeare Day" at school.  If you look closely at the picture, you'll see I have it laced as tightly as it would lace--and even at that, it was big on me!  Still, I wore it, and the kids loved it.  One little girl in the middle school even said, "You look so pretty!"

It's Homecoming tonight.  I'm the announcer for the Pep Rally this afternoon and the Homecoming Court with election results tonight.  I look forward to spending the evening with "Buddy" and seeing our alumni--my baby birds that have left the nest but who never forget to stop by and visit their "mama" from time to time!  I hope you have an absolutely fabulous Friday!  (And thanks again--click on an ad or two while you're here--it makes me a wee bit of money!)

Thursday, January 19, 2012!

Ever since I was very young, I've fantasized about going on Jeopardy!  I love trivia and have the ability to know things I shouldn't know!  (Maybe I'm just a good guesser!)  Last night, I took the Jeopardy online test for potential contestants.

The test definitely is not easy.  There are fifty questions.  For each question, you have fifteen seconds--yes, fifteen SECONDS--to type in the answer before the next question comes up.  The categories are similar to those on the show, including "Before and After" and "Rhyme Time".  I've taken the test in previous years and felt disappointed.  Last night, I felt victorious!

 Of the fifty questions, I probably knew the answers to forty.  Maybe thirty-eight.  I guessed at several, and I ran out of time for three.  Jeopardy doesn't let you know how you do on the test--I'm guessing that they take a certain percentage of the highest scoring in the country, but you never find out your score.  

Several years ago, I auditioned for Who Wants to Be a Millionaire when Meredith Viera was taking the show over from Regis Philbin.  The show's scouting crew came to the local mall, and I, along with about five hundred other people, took their screening test.  They put us in groups of 75, and I'm sure they took the top ten percent, because there were seven of us who "passed" the test.  It was brutal, but I passed!  Unlike the Jeopardy test, it was multiple choice, like the format of the game.  I was thrilled to pass--I knew a few people in my testing group and only one of them made the cut, but neither he nor I made it to the show.

I've always wondered if the reason I didn't make it to the show was because I was fat.  Let's face it, America is very discriminatory, and "fat discrimination" is one of the last legally permitted discriminations.  It'll be interesting to see how I did on the test, and if I did pass, if I'll make it to a live audition.  If I do, you'll be one of the first to know!

One thing this weight loss has afforded me is the belief that anything can happen.  I'm no longer afraid of my dreams, but pursuing them with vigor. Earlier this week, a friend from high school posted on my Facebook wall, "It's never too late to have a happy childhood."  I think he's right!

Have a thankful, thoughtful Thursday!

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Happy Feet...

and arms and legs and...I'm happy.  I am, and it apparently shows.  In the last week, I've had at least three people tell me that I look happy.  I swear that no one ever said that to me before.  I was involved with James for three years.  Three years, and no one ever told me I looked happy.  Buddy and I have been dating for less than three weeks, and we've been out six times...and I've had at least five people mention my "looking happy"!  Of course, I'm very happy in this new relationship, but I'm also really happy with myself.  The combination just seems to "work"!

Tuesday night, we went out to dinner--and the "modified picture" shows us together.  I "modified" his pic to give Buddy a little privacy.  Just because I'm comfortable putting all of my life out there on the internet doesn't mean he has to be!  Anyway, we shared a steak--teriyaki club, which has always been my favorite--and it was delicious.  We had a great time--like we always do.

 Yesterday's post was about my not having a "wow" reaction to my photographs.  Well, with this picture, I did say "wow!"  The first thing I said when I saw this picture was "I look so small in this picture", to which Buddy said, "You are small!"  Very sweet of him--even if he was speaking relatively!  I may not have seen it yesterday, but I do today!

And that smaller woman in the picture does look happy, doesn't she?  Take my advice.  If you're happy--great.  Put it out there for the world to see.  You'll be amazed at the feedback you get!  And if you aren't happy, do whatever makes you happy!  You deserve to be happy, so begin working toward it now!  Have a wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Wow? And Spirit Week!

Sunday night a friend told me that his two daughters saw my "before" and "after" photos when he was reading the blog.  Their reaction?  "Wow!"  He seemed to be happy that that was their reaction, so after I talked to him, I went to the blog and stared at the two pictures.

When I spoke to him yesterday, I told him the truth: I don't see it.  I don't see anything worth a "wow", anyway.  The weight loss isn't real to me still...I guess.  He told me that I'm "too close to it".  And maybe that's what it is.   I guess that our self-images are distorted, distorted by our opinions and the opinions of those around us.  I certainly never saw myself as large as I was--and I guess I don't see myself as "small" (a very relative term) as I am now.

I'm sure that many of you are wondering how I could possibly lose eighty pounds in five months and then "not see it."  In a way, I do see it.  I put on clothes from last winter that are impossibly large.  Sunday, I put on one of my favorite sweaters, and when I did, I thought it fit.  Later, at the movies, I realized that the shoulders of this sweater came down nearly to my elbow!  It didn't fit...not even close. So I have to admit that I have lost weight, but I certainly don't find it "wow-worthy".

It's Spirit Week at school.  Because we have a newly formed football team, we have Homecoming during basketball season.  Our Homecoming is Friday, and the days leading to Homecoming are themed.  Today is "Tacky Day", tomorrow is "Twin Day", Thursday is "Blast from the Past" and Friday is "Blue & Gold Day."  It's a crazy week that almost always feels longer than four days!  The teachers are encouraged to participate with the themes to support the kids, but I have no idea what I'm going to wear for Tacky Day.  For Twin Day, Lateisha and I have the same purple top, so she and I will go as "twins".  We'll wear jeans and blue shoes, silver hoop earrings and call ourselves twins, even though she is African-American!  For the "Blast from the Past" day, I have a "Juliet" dress, so I'll try that on and see if it fits.  (It did 80 pounds ago, so who knows?  I've dried it in the dryer, so maybe...)  I need a new t-shirt for Blue & Gold Day--the only "Prep" wear I have is my fleece (which is too big) and my new hoodie, which is too warm for the gym, which is always too hot, especially during a crowded event like Homecoming.

I hope that you have a terrific Tuesday...I hope I do, too!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Martin Luther King Day...

It's a day off for me, but it's also much more than that.  Today is a day set aside to honor a man who set his sights on a better world.  Please take a moment today to pray/ask for peace and racial equality.

Yesterday, I spent the afternoon doing what I love best--at the movies.  I treated two of my yearbook students to see Beauty and the Beast in 3-D.  Ashley had never seen the movie, nor had she ever seen a 3-D movie, so it was so much fun!  Afterward we went to dinner where I ate my first hamburger (well, a third of one, anyway) since the surgery.  $3.99 on the kids' menu, it was delicious but served with a mountain of fries.  I stopped eating fries long before my surgery--they just lost their appeal.  I managed to eat two or three plus the third of the burger.  

This afternoon, there's a basketball tournament at school.  I may go for a while; first I have to work on cleaning this house!  I think that my house has been chaotic to reflect what was going on in my life, but I'm definitely feeling better, so it's time the house reflects that, too! I had hoped to see Buddy tonight, but he had other plans.  Sighhh.  Perhaps tomorrow? 

Have a marvelous Monday, everyone!

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Who Is That Woman?

When I had my hair cut on Wednesday, I sent a picture to my brother Kriss, who said that he now sees the family resemblance.  I sent the same photo to my mother via Postagram, which is a cool app for iPhone.  For just 99 cents, Postagram will send the photo of your choosing as a postcard.  You're able to personalize the message, and the photo "pops" out of the postcard so that your recipient can keep the photo afterward!  This app will totally change my vacations; imagine taking photos of the Eiffel Tower or the lights of Broadway and rather than buying some random, stock-photo postcard and then having to find a stamp, for less than a dollar, you can send a personalized picture!

Anyway, when she received the postcard today, my mother called me and said, "Boy, that's some chin you have!"  So funny that my mom is commenting on a facial feature I've always had--but that was disguised by fat all these years!  But the truth is, my chin is pointier than I ever imagined! I think my face is actually heart shaped, but for years I thought that it was "round"!  I also have a dimple in my left cheek (think Tom Selleck but not as hirsute, of course) that I never knew I had.

As I lose this weight, I'm discovering more and more new things about myself, both physically and emotionally. I guess it's because it's happened so quickly, but often, I'm surprised when I see my reflection in the mirror.  It's rather surreal that all this change has happened in just five months.

Yesterday, I read an online article about Jennifer Hudson who spoke about her own weight loss--coincidentally, the same amount as mine to date, 80 pounds.  In the article, Ms. Hudson spoke about how much fun she was having dressing her new body.  I haven't actually reached that point, but it's nice to know it's coming!  I haven't bought much--a couple new pairs of jeans and a couple new tops, but I know I look so much better in them, and that does feel great!  I've never been a big shopper, but I do look forward to "playing dress up"!

Yesterday, I posted about regrets and not denying ourselves experiences because of fear.  I can honestly say that the only regret I have about this surgery is that I didn't do it ten years ago!!  But don't worry--I have plans to make up for lost time!  Treat yourself well, and have a sensational Sunday!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

C'mon In, the Water's Fine!

William Shedd wrote, "A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for."  And Mark Twain wrote, "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

Two nautical references in one paragraph?  Am I mad?  No, my dear readers, but I do love those quotes so much, particularly Shedd's.  Lately, I've realized that I've lost my fear.  I have.  There's nothing I'm afraid of--not really.  I don't want to stay at shore--I want to travel the world!

Think about something you want.  Be it a new job, a new relationship, anything...why haven't you gone for it?  What's the worst that could happen?  In life, we have to take chances sometimes.  No risk, no reward.  If you sit in harbor, you're guaranteed to be safe--unless you spring a leak, of course!  But what about the travel?  What about exploring new opportunities?  Are you really content to stay tied to the pier when there's so much to see in the world?

We are social animals and aren't meant to be alone.  We have to be willing to stick our necks out once in a risk getting hurt in order to find our bliss.  Yes, it's safer not to do so...safer to keep to ourselves and not even attempt a connection with another person, but at what price?

Yes, your ship is safer in harbor, but it isn't what your ship was built for.  It's time to take the plunge.  Don't over-think it...just do it.  C'mon in, the water's fine!!

Friday, January 13, 2012

It's Complimentary!

I received plenty of really positive feedback about the haircut at school yesterday.  Even my boys said nice things about it!  (Except for one who said I look like a troll, but I guess you can't make everyone happy! lol!)

I've never been one to accept compliments graciously.  I always would "explain" or try to "rationalize".  "Oh, this shirt?  Thanks, but I got it at Walmart."  Or "Smart?  Well, I guess it's just that I have a good memory..." If someone complimented me, I always managed to "discount" the compliment by the time I was done.  "Oh, well, thanks, but it's really nothing..." I think you get the idea.

Why haven't I been able to accept compliments?  Why not just say "thank you" and move on?  Why have I felt the need to "explain" or use humor to "deflate" the compliment?  Low self-esteem.  I think that, at least in part, it comes from spending so much of my life overweight.  I never felt deserving of compliments, even though I knew--at least on some level--that people don't offer compliments freely, that I must've been doing something "right" to have received the compliment in the first place.

I've made a conscious effort to change all that.  Now when people compliment me, my hair, my clothing, my weight loss, I try to stop at "thank you".  There's no need to qualify or rationalize or explain away.  "Thank you" is all that's required when someone says something complimentary.  Try it.  Just say "thank you."  Not "Oh, this old thing?"  Or "I just got lucky..." or any other dismissive comment. Think of it--you're actually insulting both yourself and the person offering the compliment when you try to "qualify" it.

We all have something wonderful to offer; we are all smart, attractive, special. We should accept that graciously.  (That's your cue--say "thank you", and have a fantastic Friday!)

Thursday, January 12, 2012

A New 'Do...

Charley, a former student who cuts my hair, has been after me to let her do a makeover given the weight loss.  Well, Wednesday afternoon, I succumbed to her scissors.  I decided to just let her cut rather than explain what she was going to do, and this is the end result!

I honestly don't recognize her!  She looks vaguely familiar--and I think she's kinda cute!  Most of my friends seem to agree--and my brother posted on Facebook that he apparently never really knew what I looked like--but that there's actually a family resemblance!  lol!  Change is good, folks...maybe it's because I've gone through so many changes recently, but I'm not afraid of change anymore.  Maybe it's time for you to make a change?  If so, go for it!  Don't worry about things that haven't yet happened; just go with it!  No risk, no reward!

I hope you have a thought-provoking Thursday!

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

A New Total...and A Nice Surprise

I weighed in at home today--and finally!  I've lost 80 pounds.  80 pounds! That's the weight of an average sixth grade girl.  I've been carrying around a sixth grader!  No wonder my knees feel better now that I'm not!

I'm just twenty pounds away from 100.  My friend Daisy said I should buy myself a piece of jewelry to commemorate that milestone, and I'm beginning to think she's right.  One hundred pounds is monumental!  And anyone who knows me knows I don't need a reason to buy jewelry!  I found a beautiful pair of earrings on  If you've never visited that website, I highly recommend.  Artisans, often from third-world countries, create beautiful works of wearable (and just displayable) art.  National Geographic sponsors this site, and the payment goes to the artist rather than some fat-cat middleman.  Additionally, items come absolutely beautifully packaged!  I may just get these earrings that I love so much in twenty pounds! 

And now for my surprise.  My new friend, (whom I call "Buddy" here to give him a little privacy) made a special trip to come see me! We went out for supper and then to the basketball game at school.  He couldn't stay through the varsity game, but he did manage to stay for the junior varsity win.  He was a very good sport--one of my coworkers sent her daughter to try to sneak a photograph of the two of us, but Buddy caught her at it!  He was very good natured about it...and we laughed it off, but I think that a lesser man would've been scared off!  It was a great surprise as I didn't expect to see him again until the Homecoming game on the 20th!  I really have so much fun with this guy; he's funny and sweet, kind and handsome.  I didn't expect to like him so much so quickly, but it's like finding money in the pocket of a coat you haven't worn in a while--an absolutely lovely surprise!

It's Wednesday, half way through the work week!  I hope that life has a lovely surprise or two in store for you as it has had for me!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Sidelines? Or Center Field?

Before my surgery, I sat and watched life go by.  Now I'm in the middle of it.  It took guts on my part, but I've never shied from a challenge.  More than eight years ago, I moved to NC from NY with nothing but my two dogs and the hope that I could make this place home.  I knew no one, and to be honest, I spent the first several (six or eight, at least) weekends in tears wondering why I had made such a foolish move.  And then I stopped feeling sorry for myself, filled my gas tank and went out exploring.  Before long, NC felt like a home away from home.  It's only taken about eight years, but now NC feels like home while NY feels like a home away from home!

When I decided to have the gastric bypass surgery, it was without hesitation.  I was ready.  I did it for myself and thought to hell with my detractors.  When my fiance, whom I believed loved me, said that he didn't know if he could be attracted to me if I lost the weight, I didn't even consider canceling the surgery.  I did consider breaking off the engagement, although it took nearly a month before I actually did. 

What a difference five months makes.  In five short months, I've lost nearly 80 pounds.  I have met a wonderful man who makes me laugh and who makes me feel beautiful and desirable.  I have a new car, and I walk without a cane and with less pain.  In just five short months.

When your all-too-brief time on earth is over, will you regret what you've done or what you've failed to do?  I think that most people regret what they've not done.  But I'm planning on not regretting a thing.  I have taken those leaps of faith--generally with wonderful results.  I have traveled, although not as much as I'd like--still, I went to Australia and England and France by myself.  I have jumped in the car and have driven to Florida alone, and it's nothing for me to drive to New York on my own--four times a year!  I have loved--sometimes with painful consequences, but I've done it, never the less.  I have laughed.  I've written a novel--actually two. 

I've taken risks...and reaped the rewards.  I've been hurt, but I'm still standing.  But what about you? Is life a spectator sport for you or are you out in the muck, getting dirty but experiencing all the joy and pain life has to offer?  Let me paraphrase the question that Janet Jackson asked, "What have you done for you lately?"

Have a tranquil Tuesday, everyone!

Monday, January 9, 2012

With Apologies to Charlotte Bronte...

At the end of Jane Eyre, Bronte's heroine simply states, "Reader, I married him."  If you haven't read the book, I just ruined it for you.  On the other hand, if you haven't read the book, you should read it anyway!  It's a classic!  (Although to me, it's always been an indictment of marriage rather than a celebration of one--read it and see if you agree...)

So yesterday was date number three...and no, I didn't marry him.  What am I, nuts?  I did, however, have a great day.  We went to the Raleigh flea market and then to Carrabas for lunch (the grilled chicken on their kids' menu is great, but I had to ask for half the usual amount of mashed potatoes--and I still only ate about half of them and half the chicken!)  We then went to see Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, a good Cold War-era spy movie that was well-acted by Gary Oldman and that cutie, Colin Firth.  We then drove back to Rocky Mount, where I showed him my campus--we've already made plans for basketball in two weeks, and then we went to my favorite Mexican restaurant, El Tapatio, where we shared an entree.  We then came back to my place, (he'd left his car at my house, and I drove to Raleigh--I know Raleigh better than he and he'd already driven from the other side of Greenville to my place.)  And then...reader, I kissed him.  

It was an absolutely fantastic day.  We laughed and laughed, ate good food, enjoyed the movie and each other's company.  Of course, I had expected it would be a fantastic day--and it was.

Have a miraculous Monday!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Linus Syndrome...

In Charles M. Schulz's beloved comic strip, Peanuts, the character of Linus is happiest when he's holding tightly to his blanket, which gives him a sense of security and peace. Wouldn't life be easier if we all had a blanket we could cling to--a talisman that would bring us a sense of peace, calm and above all, security?

No matter who we are, how confident we may appear to be, we all suffer with moments of insecurity. We are always competing to be thinner, smarter, prettier, more fashionable, more successful...always. We may have some moments when we feel good about who we are and what we have to offer--but there are also those moments when our security is shaken.  I have a former student who is brilliant, and yet she seems surprised whenever she gets an "A" or some other accolade.  Look at Hollywood.  Brilliant actors are almost always surprised when they win awards, even though they have been identified as the best of the best on other occasions.  Everyone suffers from insecurity.  Everyone.  

Lately, I've been feeling very confident about myself.  My life is going so very well right now--I'm happy in my job, happy with my weight loss, happy with my health, happy in my social life.  I've met a nice man who makes me laugh, and yet the other day when I received an email from him rather than a text,(his usual way to contact me) I immediately feared that his email was to end our budding relationship.  He had given me no indication that he would have made such an effort, but I still dreaded reading his email because I was certain it was going to be bad news.  (It wasn't. He had left his phone at home, so he was just letting me know he couldn't text me that morning.)  Is the insecurity in this new relationship just an old habit dying hard?  Or is it something more?  

Are we insecure because we have reason to be?  Is it merely habit?  Or is it the result of being beaten down again and again?  I think that it's the latter coupled with the need to self-protect.  If we tell ourselves that he's not going to like us, that we're not going to get that "A", that someone else is going to win the award, we won't be disappointed, right?  I used to say, "Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall not be disappointed."  Pretty sad, right?  Today, I think that they who expect it all are the ones who are blessed, for they will at least get something!

Have a super Sunday, everyone...I'm going to spend a large part of the day with my new friend--and I'm expecting to have a great time!

(Oh, and yes, there's a new photo on the site right below my "before" photo.  It was taken 1/7/12 in Garner, NC.)

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Yet Another First...

It was a long week!  I love my job, but the truth is, teaching takes a lot of energy!  And I'm still getting back into the routine after winter break.

Friday night, we had a basketball game at school.  Our varsity boys were ahead by 30 when I left at the half.  I decided to stop at the grocery store on my way home.  I was picking out two baking potatoes when I noticed a young man looking at me.  He smiled, so I smiled back, and then he said, "I think I know you!"  Turned out it was one of my former students--from my first year in NC when he was in fifth grade!  He graduated in May and is doing remarkably well!  Of course, I remember him clearly--he was a great little kid, and his mom was very nice to me.  And now for the first: he said, "I wasn't sure it was you, but...I kept looking and looking..." and I said, "Well, I'm thinner..." and he said, "Yeah, you are!"  That was the first time in my entire life that I've ever said "I'm thinner" to someone.  EVER!

And boy, did that feel GOOD!  Especially when he agreed.  We chatted for a long time and finally parted only after exchanging phone numbers and making tentative plans to go out to lunch.  Seeing him and how successful he is made my week!

It's been a long week, and I'm tired, so I'm going to cut this short.  I hope you have a SUPER Saturday!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Just a Quick Note!!

Guess what?  I've added the ability to email posts--so if you want to send the post to someone, you may!  I hope this makes things easier for you.

Also, I LOVE that I have international readers; please, please, please leave me comments!!


"I Do Believe in Spooks, I Do, I Do! I Do Believe in Spooks..."

Recognize that line?  It's from one of my favorite movies.  But today, I'm not going to talk about movies, or "spooks" in the traditional sense but the ghosts of our past--and how those ghosts haunt us.

After a bad break-up, we tell ourselves that we'll never make that same mistake again.  So we go into our next relationship cautious and unwilling to give the next person the same benefits of doubt that we gave the one who hurt us.  That first relationship is now a ghost that continually haunts us until we shake it loose.

But shaking it loose isn't easy, is it?  It requires faith--a huge leap of faith.  It requires letting down walls and wincing and feeling the fear and doing it anyway.  And sometimes we don't want to let go of  those ghosts because they actually give us a sense of comfort because we know them, because we've lived with them for so long.  And there's almost a perverse sense of security and maybe even victory that comes with knowing that we're "ready" for the next person to try to hurt us because we're not going to let them in.

I am all for self-preservation, but what if in our attempts to self-preserve we lock out the one person who's just perfect for us?  What if our walls have been so fortified that Cupid's arrow can't find our hearts?  What if the weight we've gained to stay safe actually hurts our health?  What if spending all those nights alone at home hardens our hearts so that we aren't able to even recognize that soul mate who has been looking for us?

At that point, it's not self-preservation any more, folks--it's self-neglect.  As humans, we are social animals. Just as the noted 17th century poet/preacher John Donne wrote, "No man is an island" in his Sermon XVII, we aren't meant to be alone. 

I know--first hand, mind you--how frightening the entire prospect is...that opening up oneself to the possibility of love means exposing oneself to the possibility of pain.  But it also means opening up oneself to the possibility of bliss--and I, for one, am willing to take the risk.  How about you?  Banish the ghosts to Halloween and take a chance on love.

Have a fantastic Friday, and thank you for reading!  I hope that reading this helps someone as much as writing it helps me!

(Oh, and in case you're still trying to place that movie line: It's the Cowardly Lion in The Wizard of Oz.)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

The Dating Game...

I hate dating.  Okaaay...I don't hate dating.  Because dating can actually be a lot of fun.  I've met some really nice guys recently--and had two dates with one of them last weekend, and I've already made plans for a date with another for a week from Saturday! What I hate is the "predating" ritual that we put ourselves through--when our self-esteem is really tested, and when the way we feel about ourselves can really help us or hurt us.

When I got married in 1992, I thought I was done with dating.  And then I got divorced.  I dated a little between the time of my divorce and the time I moved to NC.  There was a long-term relationship that was also long-distance, and like most long-distance relationships, it fell apart.  Then, in 2008, I met James, eventually got engaged and again, I thought I was done with dating.  (I've got to stop thinking that!  It seems to curse me! lol)  

I don't know how people meet other than online, which is where I've met the three guys I'm talking to now. (Yes, there's a third, but I'm not going to talk about him now!)  If you've never gone to an online dating website, I recommend that you check it out, if for no other reason than to realize how much work it is!  Most websites ask applicants to complete a rather lengthy application and find matches through complicated algorithms.  

The online applications are complex, but the real work begins when you actually make a connection.  There's the challenge of making small talk.  There's deciding what to wear.  There's deciding where to meet.  And then there's the self-doubt.  Is he going to like me?  Am I pretty enough?  Young enough?  Thin enough?  Smart enough?  These questions used to plague me.  I never felt attractive enough.  I always felt overwhelmed by self-doubt.  Today, I am less so, but it does still haunt me.  On one hand, I think I'm a pretty good "catch"...I'm attractive, smart and thinner and happier than I've ever been.  But on the other hand, I have spent the bulk of my life fat and feeling very undesirable.  And old habits definitely do die hard.

Yes, dating is scary.  Really scary. But I'm still out there--trying different guys on for size, hoping to find one that "fits".  If nothing else, I'm seeing some good movies, eating some good food and having some good laughs.  I may or may not have found "the one", but at least I'm out there looking.  Are you?

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Say Cheese!

I had a wonderful dinner Tuesday night.  Not the food--it was at a Chinese buffet and not great--but I had 15 kids (mostly former students) show up!  It was so good to see them!  One of them suggested that I teach at the college level.  I'm qualified--I do have a Master's degree, but I would miss high school, I think.  I love to see my students grow, mature, develop into adults.  There's something so satisfying about that that I think I'd miss by teaching at the college level.

The highlight of the evening for me was having my photo taken with each one.  I've always been one to HIDE from the camera, and now I embrace the idea!  In fact, I loaded every one of those pictures to Facebook as soon as I arrived home!

It's late, and I'm tired, so I'm going to call it a night.  Have a wacky and wonderful Wednesday!

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

And the Oscar/Tony/Emmy Goes to...

In college, I took several theatre classes.  I love performing and the performing arts in general.  I teach drama, have acted in community theatre productions, and when I was younger, I watched all the awards shows on television and fantasized about winning either an Oscar, Tony or Emmy.  When I dreamed about winning when I was really young, it was as a performer, but as I got older--and fatter--my dream switched to winning not as an actress but as a writer.  And who knows?  That still could happen, although I would have to start writing screenplays rather than novels...

In order to be eligible to win any award, one must be in the competition, right?  I'm never going to win an Oscar for a great movie unless I actually write one.  I couldn't win a Tony unless I was in a play on Broadway or an Emmy unless I was on television.  Well, the same is true in our lives.  We're never going to win unless we get in on the competition.

William Shakespeare (oh, how I love him) said "All the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players."  Are you a player in your own life?  Or are you sitting in the audience watching the action from the comfy, but limited, front row.  Or are you standing in the wings, waiting for...waiting for...well, waiting for what exactly?  Waiting to lose ten pounds?  Waiting for your kids to graduate high school?  For your partner to achieve his or her dream?  Seriously, waiting for what?  You do not win an acting award if you aren't on stage, folks!  You can call yourself an actor if you're standing in the wings, but at the end of the show, the flowers are presented to the actual performers, not to those standing by in case the lead actor can't go on.  And those people in the audience?  All they have to show for their time is a playbill and a ticket stub. 

So, it's time to decide.  Are you in the audience? In the wings?  Or on the stage?  When all is said and done, are you in the competition?  Because you can't win an Oscar sitting at home!  Have a terrific Tuesday, and thanks for reading!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Make That Change...

I had a second date with the guy from Friday.  He's very nice and makes me laugh, which is always a good thing.  I thought a lot today about making the transformation from fat to thin, from victim to survivor, from unhappy to happy.

Transformations are hard work.  They are.  You have to push and pull, and things hurt a LOT before they start to feel better.  But the rewards are undeniable! 

It's late, so I'm going to keep this short, but I want you to think about the transformations in your life.  What would you like to change?  Once you've identified it, it's time to take the steps you need.  Feeling scared?  No surprise.  Fear can be overwhelming.  Let's talk about FEAR for a second.  Imagine that the word "FEAR" is an anagram for "False Expectations Appearing Real".  Fear certainly feels real at the time, but so very often, that which we fear most never comes to fruition.  If you can admit that most of the things that you've feared never came to be, then you should be able to push your way through your fear to make your transformation a reality. Push through, knowing that you'll be glad you did. 

Trust's worth the work!

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Happy 2012!

It's with mixed feelings that I say goodbye to 2011.  It's been a heck of a year.  I lost a fiance, the power in my house for four days, and 20 trees on the property where I live due to a hurricane.  The area in New York I'm from suffered an enormous flood--and millions of dollars in damages.  Elizabeth Taylor died, as did Harry Morgan, Andy Rooney, Cliff Robertson, Steve Jobs, Amy Winehouse, Bubba Smith, Nick Ashford and many other celebrities.  A terrible year in many ways, and yet for me, it was one of the best years of my life!

While September 18th is my "traditional" birthday, I will forever celebrate August 5th as my "rebirth" day.  Because with that surgery on that fateful day, I was truly reborn!!  Not just with a thinner body--although that, too, is true--but with a zest for life that I'd forgotten!

So...bring on 2012.  I'm ready for it.  I'm eating better, taking care of my skin and liking what I see in the mirror.  I'm dating--yes, the guy from Friday wants to take me out again next weekend, and I'm going to go.  There's also another guy with whom I'm just chatting, but it seems promising, too.   It's the second semester at school--and I'm getting to do some of my favorite works: Macbeth and Romeo and Juliet. I have a new car that I LOVE and all is right in my world.

Happy New Year, everyone...please resolve to treat yourself as gently as you do the OTHER special people in your lives--and I say "other" because YOU are special, too!!