Tag Archives: Sara Borgstede

{Day 1} 31 Tricks To Scare Away The Grief Monster – CHOOSE

Welcome to 31 Tricks to Scare Away The Grief Monster. This series is part of the Write31Day challenge which is held every October. As revenge for writing this series, the grief monster decided to mess with the formatting of the second half of this post. I will not let him prevent me from doing this series. I choose to write on.

Today’s “Trick” 


Scripture Meditation

I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:14

When your spouse, or other loved one, moves to heaven you have 2 options:

  1. Stay Stuck In The Muck
  2. Move Forward With Your Life

You need to choose which option and your choice will impact the quality of your life.

Door #1

The first option is the one the Grief Monster wants you to pick. He loves it when people stay stuck. Staying stuck means you do not progress any further in your grief than Day 1. You choose to feel the intense pain and shock of Day 1 for the rest of your life. You go through a lot of mascara because it keeps running down your face when you cry all the time.

Door #2

The second option makes the Grief Monster cower in fear. He does not want you moving forward with life. By moving forward I mean doing the work to determine what life looks like without your loved one.

Some questions you will ask are:

  • Do I do the things I did before you became a couple?
  • Do I continue with the same things we enjoyed as a couple?
  • Do I develop new interests?

Choosing to move forward means you still grieve, but you work through your grief. Your time line did not end just because your husband’s did.


Choose to move forward in honor of him, knowing he is in your heart forever.  


Bad things do happen; how I respond to them defines my character and the quality of my life. I can choose to sit in perpetual sadness, immobilized by the gravity of my loss, or I can choose to rise from the pain and treasure the most precious gift I have – life itself.

Walter Anderson

Today’s Resource

I will periodically share resources with you throughout this series. Here is today’s resource:
Sara Borgstede has put together My Hope Toolbox: Practical Help for Depression and Sadness. I have my copy and plan to use it to help with the frustration and sadness of job searching. This kit will work, as long as you choose to use it. Click on the picture in this post, or in the sidebar to purchase for $4.
I am a member of Sara’s Faithful Finish Lines program and have been since November 2014. She’s done a wonderful job building a community of women who support and encourage one another on their faith and fitness journey, that is how I know My Hope Toolbox will work.  Read more about Sarah here.  (Disclaimer: The link is an affiliate link and I will receive compensation for any purchases.)
My Prayer
It is my prayer that you choose to work through your grief. If you are not grieving but know someone who is, encourage them to deal with their grief.
Dealing with the grief monster is not easy and quite painful at times. Choosing to move forward with life tells the grief monster you value life too much to stay stuck in the muck.
10-10-2011_3by5Michele Kearns is the founder and HUG© Award-Winner of JoyReturns.com. She encourages widows and educates society about grief and life as a widow by sharing her widowhood adventures. A graduate of Kent State University with a degree in communications, she has used her skills in the banking, collections, outdoor products and social media industries. Michele is a bookworm, lover of golden retrievers and an amateur photographer. You can see more of her photography at OgleOhio.com.

The “Tour de Parks”


Monument Park, Canton, OH

I am still a part of the Faithful Finish Lines fitness program. The program is built on 4 pillars –  faith, eating, exercise and mission. It emphasizes taking small steps toward your goals instead of making drastic changes at once.

We get motivational emails from Sara Borgstede, fitness plans from Jill Csillag and have online chats via Facebook. The women in this group are wonderful faith-filled, grace-filled women. This past winter took a toll on everyone in at least one of the 4 areas.

My fitness goal was the Groundhog Day Marathon that would run from 2/2 to 2/28 and take place at the mall. I was to park in the same spot, at the same time every morning, put my parka in the same locker, and walk the mall the same way every day and take a selfie in the same spot.

Groundhog Tracks - 2/2/15

Groundhog Tracks – 2/2/15

Well February in Northeast Ohio was what I was afraid it was going to be – crappy and not safe for driving. Also, I started back at my seasonal call center job and between those two happenings the Groundhog Day Marathon was grounded (pun intended).

Round 3 Fitness Goal

Round 2 has come and gone and no need for looking back and dwelling on what did not happen instead it is time to move forward. For round 3, my fitness goal is the Tour de Parks where I will walk one park in Northeast Ohio every weekend.

Ground Rules

I pick:

  • the park,
  • the day,
  • the time,
  • the camera settings

One of the things I found when I walked the mall for Round one’s fitness goal, I walked too fast. This time I am bringing my camera and taking pictures for a weekly blog post. Taking pictures will slow me down, help me enjoy being in the moment and let you walk beside me.

The Tour de Parks ends on April 25th.

North Park, Brunswick, OH

North Park, Brunswick, OH

Weekend Wisdom

The posts for this weekend will feature pictures from one of the parks I visited last year during my 31 Days of Autumn in Ohio series that ran on OgleOhio.com. (Today’s pictures are also part of the ones taken for the series, but were not featured on OgleOhio.)

See you Saturday for Weekend Wisdom and next Wednesday for the first installment of Tour de Parks.

The best picture from my weekly park walk will be featured on my photography blog OgleOhio.com.

What Faithful Finish Lines Meant To Me

(Author’s Note: Sorry for the bad spacing at the end of today’s post. WordPress and I are not getting along today.  The post looks beautiful when I go in and edit it but once I update it all the spacing between lines and paragraphs goes away.)

Sara asked me to write one more post about what the Faithful Finish Lines (online faith and fitness program) meant to me. While reviewing my participation in this fitness program, I came up with 3 words –

Acceptance, Grace, Community


Sara, Jill and fellow team members accepted me as I am, just like God does.

I started this faith, fitness, eating and mission program with a pulled muscle behind my left knee. Everyone understood and accepted that fact. I worked on my upper body and gently and gradually exercised the lower body, but did not push beyond what was comfortable.


I think everyone failed the weekly eating goals at least once. When we did, just like God, there was no shame, condemnation or keeping track of past failures. Our sins were washed white as snow.

On Monday of sugar week, I had a piece of turtle cheesecake with decaf coffee. Ooooppppssss! However, I cut back on sugar the rest of the week. So I made progress in reducing sugar instead of eliminating it – and progress is progress.

Every time I slipped up on the goals, I fell forward into arm’s full of grace and forgiveness.


When you become a widow, some or all of your friends, family and/or your late husband’s friend’s and family will up and vanish like a fart in the wind. (Shawshank Redemption) There goes your community.

But not with this group. We knew we needed one another as we were all going through something. Community kept us going from day-to-day and week to week, whether it was participation in weekly Facebook chats, commenting on status updates in the group, or teaming up with a prayer partner. New friendships formed. We all had (and still have) each other’s back. It did not matter that I was a widow these ladies were here for me with prayers, articles and words of encouragement.

One week I had trouble printing my resume from Word (not a good thing when you are in-between jobs) and one of the women posted an article that helped me troubleshoot and fix the problem.

Final Thought

My first year of widowhood I sat around on weekends barely doing anything. I was storing up enough energy to make it through the next work week. I wished I had access to this type of community support during that time, as I needed someone to push me to move more and to help me get back into life.

Selly Sell

Looking to get in shape during the new year?

Join this program.

There are no special dietary requirements, no strict exercise routine, no calorie counting and no weigh-ins.

It is an affordable program you will stick with and there are several levels, one to fit every budget.

Click the link below:

coupon code: FFLJan2015
  • With this code, you get a $10 off discount for any program.
  • I will get $5 off (free month) for every new person who uses the code and puts my name or blog name for referral.


New program runs January 5th-February 21st, 2015
Sign-up Deadline: Saturday, January 3rd, 2015
I am continuing with this program.
So please join me inside the Facebook group for the next 7 weeks.
Why wouldn’t you want to join a fitness program that is full of acceptance, grace and community?
*Disclaimer: I was given free access to the Faithful Finish Lines program with the promise of blogging about my experience. I am not receiving payment of any other form and the opinions are mine alone.

2020 Disclaimer: If you just found this post, I am no longer an active participant in the program as I am working on cutting Facebook out of my life.  Also this program has been revamped and is now Faithful Finish Lines 2.0 and is a membership program with a monthly fee. 

Faithful Finish Lines: Michele’s Journey – Week 7 – Well Done!

It is the final week of the Faithful Finish Lines challenge and that means it is race week.

This Week’s Verse

Sara’s choice of scripture for the week was interesting and it caused me to change my way of thinking.

It is from the Parable of the Talents or as the NIV calls it The Parable of the Gold Bags. (Link to entire parable.)

A servant who received 5 bags of gold from his master, turned them into 10 bags of gold.

“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’

Matthew 25:21

Now I always thought this applied to money and only money. But we were faithful with a few weeks (7) of challenges to our eating, exercise, faith and mission.

This verse and the parable has a whole new meaning to me. Wow! I guess God did recreate me during this program.

Getting Ran Over

I have not slept well lately and considered having someone call me at 6 a.m. this morning to make sure I was out of bed. Then I read my friend Jeff’s blog post yesterday on self-accountability.  UGH!  I felt like I got ran over by a reindeer. 

So to make sure I was self-accountable, I set 2 alarms. It took me awhile to get out of bed after the second alarm but I did it.

I was self-accountable.

Holiday Obstacle Course

A lot of group members were doing 5k’s, a 5k was out of the question due to my knee. Instead I opted to walk the local mall. My “obstacles” would be the people I have to weave in and out of during my walk, plus I might have to jump over a few elves along the way.

When I put “boots on the ground” at 8:40 this morning (alright it was tennis shoes on the pavement), the parking lot was no where near full.

"Tennis Shoes On The Pavement."

“Tennis Shoes On The Pavement.”

The only stores not open were the hair salons. There were people shopping but numerous couples and girlfriends were walking. I could tell they were mall walking pro’s and I was their “obstacle” they had to walk around.

Yap, Yap

There are several aisles off the main concourse on both levels. I walked all but one. The aisle I skipped was the one with the pet store. It just breaks my heart to see the doggies and kitties in the store wanting a nice warm home with a loving family for Christmas. I know some of them will get it and some will end up in shelters in January because they were too much work for their owners.

When I started down the aisle anchored by Dick’s Sporting Goods, I heard yap, yap. Oh no! There’s another pet store in the mall?  I saw doggies in their crates and kitties in the window as I walked by.

Bling, Bling

I stopped at the Swarovski Crystal Boutique (I am attracted to bright shiny objects) and window shopped. Santa Baby, it would be wonderful to find the the Topazy looking necklace and earrings, the golden retriever, and the leopard statue under my tree Christmas morning.      😉


As most of you know I pulled a muscle behind my left knee a couple months ago. Getting rest has been tough because I am the only one who does the housework and I was working full time in a call center. It is possible to get more rest now that the seasonal job ended.

I let Sara know about this when I started the program and it was not an issue.  Just start from where you are at and do what the knee will allow – stretch yourself but don’t push it.

The knee held up well today for 3/4 of my walk. I did rest a few minutes before proceeding down the food court aisle and made it the rest of the way through the mall.


One of the requirements on race day was to take a “selfie” of me doing my event. Well, here is my selfie.

Faithful Finish Lines Race Day Selfie

Faithful Finish Lines Race Day Selfie

This was taken as I walked down the big aisle off the lower concourse. That is my dress for New Year’s Eve. Now all I need is the figure, the man and the event to attend. I will work on the figure first as once I get it, I am sure I will have no problem getting a man.       😉

Then it is off to the opera or symphony.

Finish Line

Here is a picture of my finish line – the locker where I stored my parka.


Finish Line

Finish Line

I used the app “Map My Walk” and it stated I walked 5.55 miles in 34.41 minutes. Now I found that questionable until I spoke with my friend who said she heard when the mall was built walking each level was 1.6 miles. So walking 2 levels is 3.2 miles, plus the new aisles added on during the remodeling. I guess 5.55 is possible. I will walk it again and double check.

Oh by the way a 5k is 3.10685596 miles – and I did not think a 5k was possible. All things are possible with God.

Well Done!

Now I can say:

  • Well done being self-accountable!
  • Well done stopping the daily Pepsi!
  • Well done cutting back on the sugar!
  • Well done increasing fruits and vegetables!
  • Well done walking the Holiday Obstacle Course!
  • Well done on monitoring and increasing protein!
  • Well done eating more clean and less processed foods!
  • Well done sticking with the Faithful Finish Lines program!

Now I am off to go enjoy and share my master’s happiness!

Hopefully a steak is included! (medium, not well done.)


*Disclaimer: I was given free access to the Faithful Finish Lines program with the promise of blogging about my experience. I am not receiving payment of any other form and the opinions are mine alone.

Sign up now for the January 5th, 2015 start date. 

  • Use the code FFLJan2015 and get $10 off your registration. 
  • Also put my name or JoyReturns in the “Friend Who Referred You” box and I will receive 1 month free membership in the FFL Community Forum ($5.00 value).

Faithful Finish Lines: Michele’s Journey – Week 6 – 90/10

I feel like there is not anything to report about for week 6 as life seems so normal. However, prior to Faithful Finish Lines I was always working on making BIG changes (e.g. eliminate sugar) instead of small changes (e.g. cut back on the amount of sugar). Small changes are what makes for long lasting success.

This weeks challenge was the 90/10 principle.

90/10 means 90% clean foods and 10% treat foods.

Here is a partial list of clean foods.

  • Turkey, Chicken
  • Steak, Lean
  • Ground Beef, Lean
  • All Fruits
  • All Vegetable
  • Cottage Cheese
  • Oatmeal

Last week I mentioned using dates to deal with the sweet cravings. Dates are on the “Use Sparingly List” but I maybe had no more than 6 a day and some days not even that many. Honey and dark chocolate are also on the “Use Sparingly List.” (UGH!)

I have followed the complete list Sara sent out towards the program’s beginning. I have not been perfect, but as Sara reminded us, it is not about perfection but about progress.

If you are eating 80% processed foods, then try cutting back to 70% processed foods and 30% clean foods. Then cut back on the processed foods a little more each week. If you fail in your plans rest knowing God’ grace will catch you.

Holiday Obstacle Course

Well that’s about all I have to report for Week 6. As I write this, I am in the middle of week 7 and the post for this week will be published on Friday 12/19 – after I finish my Holiday Obstacle Course. What is a Holiday Obstacle Course?  It is walking the mall and dodging in and around or leaping over people with a single bound.     😉

So come back Friday for the Week 7 post which will also serve as a wrap up post as this is the last week of the program.

Live! From Colorado – It’s Faithful Finish Lines! 

Speaking of the program – Faithful Finish Lines website went live this week. The next program starts January 5th, 2015. Registration closes January 3rd 2015.

  • Use the code FFLJan2015 and get $10 off your registration. 
  • Also put my name or JoyReturns in the “Friend Who Referred You” box and I will receive 1 month free membership in the FFL Community Forum ($5.00 value).

You have the choice of several online programs. The one I am a part of is now known as the Faithful Finish Lines: Stepping Forward. 

I encourage you to sign up for one of the programs. Where else are you going to find a program that is filled with lots of grace and encourages you to move forward even if it is at a snails pace?

*Disclaimer: I was given free access to the Faithful Finish Lines program with the promise of blogging about my experience. I am not receiving payment of any other form and the opinions are mine alone.


Faithful Finish Lines: Michele’s Journey – Week 5 – Fresh

Week 5 of the Faithful Finish Lines program brought about a much needed fresh start after a week of overdosing on turkey and other Thanksgiving fare.

I was ready for a start fresh and looked forward to week 5 until it was announced in our weekly Facebook Chat that this week was a no sugar week.  UGH!  Say it ain’t so! I inherited my sweet tooth from both parents. However, this is where Sara’s program differs from other diet and fitness programs – adopt this and every weeks goal to your life. 

So instead of going cold turkey on sugar, just reduce it.

It’s a good thing this program is flexible because last week there was cheesecake – turtle cheesecake at the grief support group meeting.

Yes, I ate it and followed it with a cup of decaf coffee (without sugar). Both were heaven and a lovely way to end the day, a day spent back at the call center because the phone lines were busy.

I was at the call center both Monday and Tuesday and made it through both days with just cucumber water – no Pepsi (sugar).

I Had Dreams There Was Sugar In My Coffee

Wednesday morning I fixed a cup of decaf coffee and went to put sugar in it and remembered it was “no sugar” week so I put the sugar back in the container.Then I put the spoon in the mug and stirred the coffee as if I had put sugar in it. Yes, I played games with my mind. However, my taste buds were not fooled and could tell the coffee was plain black.

My taste buds and I reached a compromise – no more than 1/4 teaspoon of sugar in the coffee. Gone is the 1 teaspoon of sugar.

Instead Of Sugar

I once heard or read somewhere that when you have a craving for sugar you should eat a date instead. A packaged of Sun Maid Pitted Dates just happened to be in my kitchen cupboard. When I got a craving for something sweet, I ate 3 dates instead. By doing this I accomplished adding in more fruit to my diet in addition to not eating something sugary.

The dates did help with the sweet tooth, plus the fiber is beneficial as well.   😉

Now it is on to week 6 of this 7 week journey. Time is racing on by as it seems like just last week I started this journey. Stay tuned for week # 6 adventures and the 90/10 principle.

*Disclaimer: I was given free access to the Faithful Finish Lines program with the promise of blogging about my experience. I am not receiving payment of any other form and the opinions are mine alone.




Faithful Finish Lines – Michele’s Journey – Week 4 – Blessed

Well week 4 of Faithful Finish Lines is in the book and it was a week filled with blessings.

Blessed By Grace

This program is not a strict program. It is a program filled with grace – God’s grace and the grace we give each other to live life and that means enjoying Thanksgiving.

I enjoyed a buffet lunch at a local country club with some dear friends. I do not think they served a lot of processed food either. I ate mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, turkey (white meat), salad, a roll, cranberry sauce, green bean casserole, stuffing, and topped it off with a piece of pecan pie.

It was only 1 helping of each and I had water with my meal. No pop, or iced tea just good old water with lemon.

Then for supper I had water and green tea because I was still stuffed from lunch.

Exercise Blessing

Exercise was a huge blessing last week. I walked the upper level of the mall on Tuesday and then Wednesday I did Christmas decorating. The decorating led me to pushing the envelope on what my knee would handle. It did well with only minimal discomfort (usually after sitting too long or getting out of bed in the morning). Once I get up and around the knee is fine.

Surviving all that exercise last week has encouraged me to do more this week.

Group Blessing

Faithful Finish Lines is filled with wonderful women. As I write this, one woman posted a prayer request in our private Facebook group. We all indicated we are praying and I have no doubt this community of women will continue to pray for our fellow member during her crisis.

We also post prayer requests for each week in our group. A “Like” means you’ve read the request and are praying about it.

These women are strong.

These women have faith in God.

These women are a blessing to each other and I am blessed to be a part of this group.

Coming next week – Week 5 – Fresh 

*Disclaimer: I was given free access to the Faithful Finish Lines program with the promise of blogging about my experience. I am not receiving payment of any other form and the opinions are mine alone.

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