Sensational Sixty

Join me on a journey of reinvention.

Clean Eating

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We all struggle with weight.  And I am no different from anyone else in that regard.  (No, I’m not as big as the picture above, but some days I  FEEL that  way!)    I recently posted that I weighed more than I ever have  and I made up my mind to do something about it.  I didn’t want a diet.  I’ve had success with the HCG diet before, dropping 40 pound or so in a very short time.  But the effect was not lasting for me.  It didn’t take a year to gain it all back plus some.  I want something that will last forever.  I don’t intend to put in the work to lose weight – and it IS work! – just to have to do it all over again next year.

So, I’ve spent a lot of time recently researching all the options that are out there.  Anything that relied on counting calories or points was off the table.  I was looking for something that would become a natural eating lifestyle that was easy to stay on for the rest of my life.  That said, I know that weight loss or maintenance all really boils down to calories in vs. calories out.  Narrowing it down to two choices, I focused on looking at The Paleo Diet and the Real Food diet.

The Paleo Diet, as you may know, is concentrated on eating only the foods that our cavemen ancestors would have had accessible to them.  This means grass-fed meat, plants, vegetables, fish,  fruit, roots and nuts.  It specifically excludes grains, beans, dairy products, potatoes, refined salt and sugar and processed oils.  Not a bad option.  I already know that carbs in the form of breads, cookies, donuts, etc tend to put weight on my frame easily.  But I’m not too sure about the dairy restriction.  I really like cheese and yogurt, even though I pass on the milk.

The Real Food Diet allows lots of fruits and vegetables, locally grown meats, dairy products, 100% whole wheat and whole grains, wild-caught seafood, dried fruits , seeds, nuts, popcorn and natural sweeteners, such as honey or maple syrup.   Specifically excluded in this diet are fast food, refined grains and sweeteners and nothing deep-fried.  This option is a bit less restrictive than the Paleo Diet, but more feasible for long-term, in my opinion.

Both diets prefer organic good whenever possible and drinks, for me, can be water, iced tea and natural fruit juices.

After spending a lot of time really considering the options and perusing several blogs with recipes, I  decided to go, for the most part, with the Real Food diet.  I’ve been eating that way, sort of, for a couple of years.  I will limit the amount of “good” grains that I eat, such as quinoa, barley and brown rice,  and eliminate bread altogether unless I can find an alternative that is acceptable.

The biggest adjustment has been ditching the processed foods, mostly in the form of snacks.  I did a huge purge of my kitchen and pantry and purchased more fruit, some Larabars, which are surprisingly good, and changed my meal planning to include many more vegetables.  I’ve been eating this way for about a week now and surprising things are happening already.  I have more energy, I’m not hungry between meals and I think I’ve already lost weight.  It hasn’t been hard to eat out, as I can always find something that fits my requirements. I weighed at the beginning of the month and don’t plan on weighing again until next month, if I can wait that long.  I’m using a  weight loss tool that I made after seeing a similar one on Pinterest.  I put a number of marbles equal to the weight I’d like to lose in one vase and, when I do weigh, I’ll move a number of marble equal to the pounds lost over into the other vase.  They sit on my kitchen window sill and will provide a visual reminder of my progress.  By weighing only monthly (or semi-monthly, I’m itching to do it already :)), I’m hoping it will remind me that this is more about overall health and not to obsess over a pound here, a pound there.

weightlosstoolfinalHomemade visual weight loss tool

The other big surprise is that my husband is willing to go along with these changes!  I had assumed that he would not be interested and proceeded in that fashion when he caught me up and wanted to know what was going on in the kitchen.  I explained and he said he’d give it a try.  Since he is a real meat and potatoes kind of guy, if he really misses the starches and carbs, I can easily accommodate his tastes by cooking something extra with the meal.  When he’s out, he’s on his own in terms of whether he “keeps the faith” or not.  Hopefully, when he sees me make progress, it will motivate him for HIMSELF.

I will post my progress (or lack thereof, but I’m trying to be optimistic) along the way.  I’m also logging my foods on a phone app, just for the purpose of education and to see percentages of carbs, protein and fat, not necessarily calories or pounds lost.  It’s interesting to discover how different foods stack up.

What about you?  Did you make a big New Year’s resolution to lose weight?  What plan are you following?  I’d love to share the journey with you!


Willpower and Motivation


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Be honest, who hasn’t done this?  You make a long list of things you want to change or do better in the new year, but by month’s end, the list is usually just a memory with no real change having taken place.  And you beat yourself  up, thinking, if only I had more willpower or stronger motivation, I’d be able to make these changes in my life.  Sound familiar?

I’ve just read a book that will blow away your preconceived ideas about that willpower and motivation and give you the tools to make lasting changes in any aspect of your life, almost mindlessly.  The book is called Surprisingly…Unstuck: Rewire your brain to exercise more, eat right and truly enjoy doing so by Maria Brilaki, which you can find on

Habits are deeply ingrained and difficult to change, in part because habits are things that we do without much thought and little decision-making.  For example, you wake up in the morning, go to the bathroom, make coffee, go get the paper, pour a cup of coffee and sit down to read the paper.  You’ve been doing it EXACTLY the same way for so many years that there is little awareness of what you’re doing.  In fact, you could do it in your sleep!

Now suppose one of the items on your resolution list is to practice yoga once a day.  You go to bed at night, full of good intentions about getting up in the morning and doing yoga.  Come morning, you get up, start your normal routine, and before you know it, it’s 10:00 and you REALLY need to get your day started.  So you vow to do the yoga after dinner.  After dinner, your normal routine is to clean up after dinner, then head to the couch for some serious TV watching.  After you sit down, you remember you were going to do yoga today.  But you’re already nice and comfy and to do yoga, you’d have to get up, change your clothes, find your gear, put in the DVD and do the practice.  You decide you’re just too tired and, instead, sit there and berate yourself for your lack of willpower and promise to do better tomorrow.   So the cycle begins all over again.

In her book, Brilaki says that willpower and motivation are HARD, and I certainly agree!  She teaches a process for creating new habits that takes most of the hard work out of the process, leaving willpower and motivation to be used in a more effective way.

Part of the problem is the size of the change we would like to make.  Brilaki maintains that change can be made in three ways – by trying to make RADICAL change, by using SMALL steps to gradually establish new habits or by taking RIDICULOUSLY SMALL steps to train your mind to change.

Radical change is where most of us opt to start.  It shows results quickly, but is the most risky by way of never getting started ( “I’m overwhelmed by what’s required” ) or by failure ( “I guess it’s too hard” ).

Using small steps is successful in some cases, but it still has elements of risk.  It will take longer for changes to become habits and there are a lot of decisions that have to be made along the way.

Ridiculously small steps are the easiest and most effortless way to train your brain to change.  You can also handle making several changes at the same time with this method.

Using the yoga example above, to make daily yoga practice a habit involves a lot of steps and decision-making.  You need to decide when you’re going to do it, find your exercise clothing, find your yoga DVDs, find your mat, decide which program you will follow, make sure your clothing is clean, change into your clothing, turn on the DVD, do the yoga and put away your gear after practice.  That’s A LOT of steps!  And , when trying to make a radical change,  from exercising never to exercising once a day, it’s sometimes a lot EASIER to just not do it.

Taking ridiculously small steps might involve deciding to get all the clothes and equipment ready in preparation for yoga.  This might take you a few minutes or a few days, depending on your situation.  Once that is done, (SUCCESS!), you might naturally decide to watch the 4 DVDs you have to figure out which program you think you will like (SUCCESS!).  Then you might vow to do yoga once per week, on Thursdays, at 8:00.  After that becomes a habit (SUCCESS!), the next small step you need to take will come naturally to you and progression and, ultimately, the new habit that was your goal has been formed, almost effortlessly and with little willpower or motivation needed!

Focusing on ridiculously small steps is definitely not sexy, nor will you see drastic changes quickly.  But I think at it makes sense to effect lasting change in this way.  I started my journey at the beginning of this blog with a LOT of big ideas about changes that I wanted or needed to make in my life.  Looking at the big picture, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and think “My life will never be where I’d like it to be”.  I’ve certainly tried my share of radical change that hasn’t lasted and wasted many hours of putting myself down for not having enough willpower or motivation.

So, I’m off now to put together my list of ridiculously small steps that I want to start taking along the path to reinvention.  The next post will cover how to harness your motivation to use what you have most effectively and triggers.

Thanks for reading!



“Beauty is how you feel inside, and it reflects in your eyes. It is not something physical.” ~Sophia Loren

Tiny Budha had a recent post about 35 Ways to Be Beautiful.  I’m going to do my best in the new year to incorporate these ideas into my life so that my whole life will be beautiful.  Enjoy and Happy New Year!

1. Smile. As the quote goes, “I’ve never seen a smiling face that was not beautiful.”

2. Be there for someone who needs you even if there’s nothing in it for you—give without expectations.

3. Make a sacrifice for someone you love.

4. Admit a mistake, even if it’s hard to say you’re wrong, and work to make amends.

5. Share your struggles, putting your ego aside, to make someone else feel less alone.

6. Create something that helps people. A song, a blog, a support group, a non-profit—anything that inspires.

7. Help a child feel good about him or herself.

8. Tell someone what you appreciate about them, even if you feel vulnerable.

9. Forgive someone without needing to hear the words, “I’m sorry.”

10. Create positive energy around you by thinking positive thoughts and acting with positive intentions.

11. Sit with reality without judging anyone or anything.

12. Accept someone for who they are instead of trying to change them to who you want them to be.

13. Treat people as they want to be treated.

14. Notice something simple but beautiful in the world around you.

15. Acknowledge the beauty in others, instead of feeling threatened or competing with other people.

16. Be the change you want to see in the world, as per Gandhi’s suggestion.

17. Tap into your personal power and do something that makes a difference in the world.

18. Find strength in a challenging moment. It’s not easy to do, and you deserve credit for it.

19. Talk kindly about the world around you instead of gossiping or complaining.

20. Forget yourself for a minute and do nothing but listen to someone who needs it.

21. Measure a person by their best moments, not their worst.

22. Give yourself the same courtesy—focus on the good you’ve done, not the mistakes you’ve made.

23. Take the high road when someone hurts you instead if being cruel or catty.

24. Make someone laugh. A smile can literally melt stress and pain away. How beautiful of you to do that for someone else!

25. Make someone cry—tears of joy that is. People want to feel moved, inspired, motivated. Never underestimate the power of touching someone’s heart.

26. Keep an open mind instead of sticking with a judgment or assumption.

27. Love what you’re tempted to fear.

28. Be the voice of optimism when the people around you need it badly.

29. Show humility when your accomplishments would make it easy to stand above people.

30. Handle rejection or failure with grace. It’s far more easily said than done—and it sounds so cheesy and cliche—but accepting loss gracefully makes you a true winner.

31. Show unbridled enthusiasm for something that excites you. All children are beautiful, and I think their unadulterated joy has a lot to do with it.

32. Hear what someone means, not just what they say. Anyone can nitpick. Not everyone actively works to be understanding.

33. Imagine a world where people know peace, and do one small thing to create it.

34. Honor the values that matter to you. Showing integrity is the first step to feeling good about yourself.

35. Accept and love yourself, just as you are in this moment.

If you want to read more about these ideas, hop on over to the Tiny Budha blog.



Friends have always been somewhat elusive for me.  As far back as I remember, I usually befriended one person of a group, belonging to the group in a sort of hanging-on way, if you know what I mean.  Not really a member of the “inside circle” but welcome enough to participate in group activities.  Part of this was my innate shyness and the fact that I lived out in the country and didn’t always have access to the get together.

First married, my husband and I didn’t have a large social circle and didn’t feel any lack.  Then came the “family” years, where all your acquaintances came from your children’s activities and, with working full-time jobs, we didn’t have time to make anything other than work friends.  (There was no one advocating “date nights” back then!)  Sure, we had “couples” friends that we vacationed with, but that was about it.

The kids went on to their own pursuits and I finally felt free from the guilt I always had about working.  Work took up more and more time and  down time was usually spent with a group of girlfriends from work.  Once I moved and no longer worked, they, for the most part, faded away.  I worried about how I was going  to meet people without a job, but was content puttering at home with all the projects I had put off until I had time.  Fortunately, we moved into a house next door to a very friendly couple.  Through them, we joined a small group of people and that served as our primary source of friends.

Years passed , the husbands petered out and some of us women began travelling together.  These women are the base of my friendships today.  We know each other well, support each other when necessary and have a good time together.

I picked up a book called MWF Seeking BFF  My Year Long Search for a New Best Friend, by Rachel Bertsche primarily because it had a catchy name.  But I’ve been wanting to enlarge my small social circle, feeling the need to be connected with more people.  My current friends are very dear, but they are all up to 15 years older than me (not that they ACT it!).  We may move in the future and I need to know how to make new friends wherever we end up.  Social circles can and do get smaller, whether by falling-outs, death or moving. I just needed some help in figuring out what to do.

The book was a great help.  Although her story is quite different from mine – she’s got a large circle of friends, both near and far, but wanted to find someone in her current city with whom she felt comfortable making last-minute plans – I learned a LOT.   And, while her method – 52 “girl-dates” in one year – did not appeal to me, there is actually a science behind making friends and doing certain things increases your chances of turning a stranger into a friend.

And so friendship becomes another area in which I will attempt an improvement.  Next time, I’ll summarize the important points that I got out of the book and tell you about my plans and attempts to make new friends.


gainweightcartoonWe all have them.  Excuses.  “There are just so many goodies around Christmas – I can’t miss out.”  “I don’t look so bad – as long as I’m prepared to look in the mirror.”  “That reflection from the store window has GOT to distorted.”  “The lighting in this dressing room is just really bad.”  “Just one time won’t hurt anything.”

Recognize any of them?  We all have the remarkable ability to justify any behavior we want to partake in.  But the fact of the matter is, weight and healthy eating is a CHOICE!  Whether we like it or not, we CHOOSE to allow ourselves to gradually put the weight on and we CHOOSE to ignore it until either we have a health crisis or we start being honest with ourselves.

My serious attempts to lose weight began when I was around 40.  At that time, my motivation was a very slender, fit friend with whom we went on vacation to (skip over this part if you’re shy) nude resorts.  A month or so before each trip, I’d starve myself until I felt comfortable enough to take off my clothes in front of others.  Pretty good motivation, but not very lasting, or healthy.


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That phase was followed by years of trying any diet-of-the-minute:  Low Carb Diet, Atkins, Weight Watchers, Paleo Diet, Grapefruit Diet, Cabbage Soup Diet, 7 Years to Look Younger, Detox Diet, 6 Week Body Makeover, Body by Jake, Eat to Live, No Fat, Full Fat, HCG Diet, Scarsdale Diet, Slim4Life, South Beach, 3 Hour Diet, Zone Diet….and the list goes on and on.  I’m sure many of you have gone through the same thing.  You lose a bit or a lot of weight, you decide to come off the diet and before long, the weight is back, sticking to you like a tic you can’t get rid of.

Enough!  Now is the time to act.  If anything is to slow me down in this next phase of my life, it WILL NOT BE something that I have a choice about.  I have started doing yoga and that is going well.  I feel so good after each class.  Next up is diet.  I don’t know what it will look like yet, but it will definitely be a lifestyle change that I will try to embrace for the rest of my life.  I’ll let you know how it goes!

Have you checked your weight lately?

Assume Love in All Things

Patty Newbold, a widow who got it right the second time, writes a fantastic blog called Assume Love.  She writes about marriage, but I feel some of her subjects can apply to all people in our lives with just a little tweaking.  With your husband or significant other, assume love in all he does.  With a friend, assume good will.  With a store clerk, assume the last customer was really rude and be nicer.  With a bad driver an, assume he’s just having a bad day.

In other words, give people the benefit of the doubt!  Most people are not out to hurt or make you mad on purpose.  Life sometimes gets in the way. Turn the other cheek and do what you can to make their day better.  I guarantee it will make your life better.

But if you are having relationship issues, be sure to hop over to Patty’s site and browse around.  I’ve found her advice to be very helpful in my pursuit to make my marriage happier.


It’s official.  I got on the scales the other day and I’m now heavier than I’ve ever been in my life.  How did this happen?  Rather, since I know HOW it happened, why did I LET it happen?


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As a child, my grandfather nicknamed me Twiggy.  Remember her from the 60s?  While I certainly wasn’t a super model, I did resemble her is body composition and probably, looking back, metabolism, two words that never entered my mind when I was 18!

In my twenties and thirties, I ate and drank what I wanted, whenever I wanted, occasionally gaining weight, but when my pants got too tight, I just gave up some of the more decadent things and the weight dropped right off. Easy, peasy, no problems.

I noticed around the age of 40, however, that weight didn’t just drop off anymore.  And there is where the weight struggle started, and has remained, for me.  At first, I didn’t know HOW to diet.  Had never had to, so what was the big deal?  Thus began the experimentation stage that I’ve been in ever since.

We are constantly barraged with the information that carrying too much weight is not healthy.   You can’t look in a magazine or watch TV without seeing ad after ad for weight loss products.  As you age, extra weight causes so many physical problems they are too numerous to list here.  For myself, my knees hurt, my back hurts, my stamina sucks and don’t even mention how hard it is to find any clothes that make me look good.  My cholesterol is high (but not too high, thankfully) and I’m blessed with normal blood pressure.  I realize my symptoms are far less than many people around me and around the country.

Nevertheless, the extra weight I carry has started to prevent me from doing some things that I enjoy.  I can’t explore a museum for as long as I’d like  or enjoy a walk on a beautiful day.  DIYing takes more days that it used to, because I can only do so much in a day.  And if I ignore my body and push on through, I definitely pay for it the next day and sometimes the days after that.  I want to be able to feel SEXY again.

As much as I have dragged my feet for the last twenty years, I’ve finally accepted the idea that I MUST lose weight.  Not so much for the way I look (although that is a big factor!), but for my health and for my desire to live the best way I can in this “third act” of my life.  And so, the process and, initially, the research begins.

Do any of you recognize yourself?

To Work or Not?

A few months back, before my realization that I was hitting sixty, I became very restless.  Ever since we moved to the tiny town that we now live in, I have not worked outside the home, with the exception of one summer.  This was not necessarily out of a desire to retire, but because the area does not offer much in the way of employment opportunities, particularly for a woman over 50.

I have appreciated not working, don’t get me wrong.  I have had the opportunity to travel, become a DIYer, volunteer and explore the satisfaction of keeping a home.   And the thought of going back to a 9 – 5 job makes me shudder.  But, as a child of the 60s and 70s, I very much identified myself by my career.  And, after 10 years of answering “I play a lot” when someone new asks me what I do, I began to feel incomplete and, worse, irrelevant.

Recent studies show that up to 76% of “second act” people intend to continue working past retirement.  Turning 60 or 65 is no longer seen as the “end” of your life, but rather a time to reflect and repurpose your life.   The October 2009 issue of the Journal of Occupational Healthy Psychology,  published by the American Psychological Association, says a recent national study determined that retirees were healthier, both mentally and physically, if they kept working at least part-time.

Finding a job, however, is not easy.  USA Today says:

The stark reality is that most of today’s middle-age workers who want to continue working after 60 or even 65 will need to find a new source of income. While nearly half of baby boomers expect to work past 65, only 13% of current retirees surveyed this year by consulting firm McKinsey & Co. actually worked past that age. Forty percent of current retirees were forced to stop working earlier than they had planned, the survey found. The average age when current retirees left the workforce: 59.

Although age discrimination is illegal,  AARP surveys indicate that at least 60% of respondees have experienced or observed it in the workplace. That, plus the lack of opportunity to go back into my field of project management led me to wonder about starting a business of my own.  The only thing I knew about were direct sales companies and I do not do selling – I’m uncomfortable and ineffective at it.  After a lot of research, however, I did find something that I thought I could do and building the (small) company has become part of my reinvention.

Some people have said “Are you nuts?  At your age?.”  But it has been a life changing thing for me.  There has been and remains  a steep learning curve for me.   I hadn’t realized how stagnant I had become until I had to step out of my comfortable box and confront things that were difficult. My mind feels alive again and my business, which has to do with social media, makes me feel that I’m somewhat in the mainstream again.

I don’t know where the business will go, but I’m willing to follow wherever it takes me.  Besides the bit of money it might make me, it gives me a sense of purpose, a feeling that I am a vital person with something to contribute.  What could be better than that?



Anger Management

I was wrong.  I thought I could improve my marriage by myself.  I can’t. While I can make my marriage a lot happier for my husband, I can’t make him want to fulfill my needs for our marriage.  In doing further research, and I should have known from other things that are going on in my life, he has no motivation to make any changes.  Things are working for him.  He gets great sex, great meals, a clean house and I get …. what?   The luxury of not working at my age?  What else?  What about feeling taken care of?  What about feeling cared for?  I was quite put out and didn’t hesitate to let him know about it.

These were the thoughts and feelings that were running through my head as I opened up my email the other day.  Since I subscribe to several blogs, I was not surprised to get this post from Always Well Within.  What did surprise me was the topic.  Anger Management.  Catch Anger Before it Catches You from Tiny Buddha was the perfect thing for me to read at the perfect time.


Too often, when we get angry, we think that the solution is to vent that anger.  After all, haven’t we heard for years about the negative health effects of keeping things bottled up inside?  Unfortunately, most of us vent to the object of our anger – in this case, the husband.  Knowing the differences between men and women now, I know this doesn’t do any good and is even contrary to the result you want to get.  But, without taking a moment to consider the results of that venting, that is what I do – vent, and usually in a big way.

Tiny Buddha cautions us to consider the effect venting your anger has on our health and happiness.   Instead of automatically blowing up, if we will take just a moment to tune into ourselves, we can turn that anger around and learn the benefits of love, patience and tolerance.  Before I explode the next time, there are seven steps I am going to try to process through:  take responsibility, breath, apologize (if you couldn’t get to these steps in time!), transform the negative energy, resolve, forgive myself and move on.

Long story short, my husband and I had an honest conversation and I’m back on the track of making our marriage a better place to live.  I learned that, even though I can’t see it, there are changes taking place inside him that, hopefully, will manifest as action in time.  So the next time I lose my temper or get frustrated, I’m going to try to take myself out of the picture for just a moment and implement Tiny Buddha’s suggestions.

What about you?  Are you able to process your anger in a way that is healthy?  I encourage you to click on the link above and read more about this way of approaching anger.

Fear and Shame

images[4]I honestly never realized that men and women were so different.  I mean, I knew that my husband and I looked at things quite differently, but I guess I assumed that it was because of the basic differences in our personalities.  He’s an optimist, I’m a pessimist  (at least at the beginning of our marriage, but that’s a whole ‘nother post!).  He’s a slob, I’m a neatnik.  He’s happy-go-lucky, I manage clinical depression.

Now I find out, if research is to be believed, that there are biological differences that manifest themselves in infancy!  I’m an intelligent, educated and curious person and, of course, I knew men and women were cut from different cloths.  But somehow I never really absorbed that information in a way that pertains to  my relationship with my husband.

According to the research in How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It, baby girls, when they are born, are comforted by eye-to-eye contact. They will remain engaged with a caregiver as long as he or she maintains contact.  The girl is comforted by this prolonged contact and feels fear if she is deprived of this closeness.

Baby boys, while needing the same contact, are overstimulated by prolonged  eye contact and will look away.  Because the caregiver will then assume the baby is no longer interested, he or she will break contact, which causes a feeling of shame (which we learn to label as rejection) for a boy.

Women, by nature and years of evolution, avoid FEAR by developing and maintaining relationships.  The more they talk about their troubles, the closer they feel.  Vulnerability is exposed to get the closeness they want.

Men, on the other hand, do not see relationships as a comfort and tend to invoke the fight-or-flight response to trouble to avoid feeling SHAME.  They have learned to hide their vulnerability.

So what does this all boil down to?  Fear and shame are not bad things.  Fear keeps us safe – most of us don’t do things that are inherently dangerous.  Shame keeps us moral – most of us do what’s right.

The basis of our connection with each other – man and woman – is how we relate to each other’s emotions.  In a good marriage, the husband will, at some level, make the wife feel safe and the wife will make the husband feel valued and admired.  If either person fails in the response to the other’s needs, a never-ending cycle of failure ensues.

So here’s where the rubber meets the road, so to speak.  Have I done a good job of making my husband feel important and valuable to me?  I think not.  I always thought that one’s sense of value came totally from within.  By not knowing and protecting the primary motivating need of my husband, I have allowed that perpectual negative cycle to become entrenched in our lives.  Maybe my husband will be more loving if I understand his reaction to shame and learn ways to not trigger it.  It’s definitely something to consider.

Have you always acted in a way that reinforces your husband’s inmate needs?


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