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My 7-year SPARKlingversary... Happy Maps? Yes, PLEASE!

Saturday, January 10, 2015


"Mapping apps help us find the fastest route to where we're going. But what if we'd rather wander? Researcher Daniele Quercia demos "happy maps" that take into account not only the route you want to take, but how you want to feel along the way."

I loved, loved LOVED this talk!

I've always been a back-roader, and I've infected my family with the bug, LOL! If I have any regrets or resentments, they are associated with the times when life doesn't allow me to wander at will... the more isolated, undefined, unusual the road (literally, and figuratively) the more it will compel me to investigate.

End of the Road...
Southern edge of Death Valley National Park, Inyo County, California

I've had the picture above as my desktop for several months now... the very moment I stumbled upon it, it began to shape me.

I felt my breathing change... deeper, slower... a certain tightness that I am inclined to carry in my chest always, loosened.

At the same time my mind opened up, and the thoughts and ideas began flooding in... my energy level rose and I just wanted to GO! Anywhere. Everywhere.

I felt all at once more sharply defined, yet at the same time less delineated... unless you can call freedom a box in which one lives and dreams.

I dance a little in my chair when I sit down at the computer. I see before me a road that takes no small amount of determination to walk, and which must be walked hand-in-hand with GRACE, and hope, and resolution.

I carry this image in my mind's eye throughout my day and I feel taller, stronger, better, more ALIVE and open to life.

(I've always known I'm a desert flower... I have always bloomed profusely when life is most arid and conditions most extreme.)

This picture demands a response from me... and respond, I do. The songs my heart is inspired to sing flow out through my hands and feet as I walk my daily paths with joyful determination.

This unlikely road is my "happy map."

...and this morning, as I listened to Daniel Quercia, I realized my SPARK Journey has become the "happy map" for my life... it takes into account not only where I want to go, but how I want to feel along the way... and it's been incredibly 'scenic' (far, far and away from the typical SPARK/weight-loss journey)... much longer and more winding than most...

...incredibly enriching... healing... inspiring....

...and really... what better by which to be inspired than your own life?

I know goals are important... though goals are not my reason for doing anything. My goals are simply stepping stones to my DREAMS.

I can keep walking this road... seven years and counting, yesterday... because I dare to dream... and because how I feel as I walk (what I think, what I need, what I'm compelled to learn, my life outside the elimination of fat, each person with whom I share the road) is just as important as are my reasons for being here in the first place.

Eliminating fat is a journey of self-discovery... and I am not the most direct and shortest distance between any two points... none of us are.

I am a "happy map" to be discovered, like a gift, as I go.

...So are YOU!

Have you ever considered that SparkPeople is a microcosm of the world? This spoke volumes to me about what SparkPeople really is:

For more tolerance we need more...

(though personally, I think 'tolerance' is setting the bar way too low)

...and a 'heads up' for anyone interested:

The Pain Relief Project is FREE and online from January 19-26, 2015

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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm a little late finding this, but what a beautiful (beautifully written and beautifully put together) blog! I loved the Daniel Quercia talk, your photos with quotes are thought-provoking and inspiring, and your own writing is so poetic. I love how you compare your Spark journey to a happy map. I share your feelings. This was just a lovely blog, and I thank you for this oasis of calm beauty in my otherwise ordinary working day.
    1757 days ago
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    1761 days ago
    This is lovely, my friend. Listening and reading brought smiles and inklings of possibility. Thank you for that and for another glimpse of what makes up your amazing self! ~ann
    1764 days ago
  • JUNEAU2010
    You have once again tied two seemingly unrelated elements together in a beautiful and meaningful way. I was at Death Valley years ago and I KNOW that road! Igniting my wanderlust and applying to my SP journey is not a concept that had crystalized until now! emoticon
    1764 days ago
    Cool! Thanks. I love TED talks.

    1765 days ago
    "my goals are simply stepping stones to my dreams"

    Yes! DO I hear you on that.

    I love love love this blog. Some are just born wanderers, free spirits, nomads and no one but a wanderer can understand the allure and strange comfort of the open road that leads heaven knows where around unknown bends.

    The talk was great, thanks for sharing

    There's a picture on my Pinterest bucket list board that simply says 'To Travel without a Map' now in my head though I will think, hmm without a conventional map sure, but maybe with a happy map instead, what a concept!

    Happy Sparkversary, may the rest of the journey be long and winding, off road, and most importantly as enjoyable as a desert flower deserves with a gloriously expressive happy map emoticon emoticon
    1766 days ago
    Thank you so much for these! The Happy Map Talk is something that could change my life. The tourism talk could change the world.
    It's a joy to know you!
    1766 days ago
  • no profile photo DEEDEE_16
    A close friend and I used to go mountain biking with a compass and see where we end up...it was always an exciting adventure! emoticon
    1766 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/10/2015 9:40:23 PM
    AWESOME AWESOME AWESOME. My Mom's Dad called her a desert flower! Coincidence? I think not She has always been one to blaze her own trail, too. I thank God for that example in m life.

    1766 days ago
    I feel the same way about the scenic route. I love being in nature and feel calm and "more at home." The journey is always worth it, but a little bit better when we take time to enjoy the scenery! Thanks for the reminder!

    P.S. I love the pictures and sayings.
    1766 days ago
    When I see that you have posted a new blog, I always know that I will be enriched in some way. Today's blog did not disappoint. Thanks for reminding us to enjoy the journey.

    When the organization I work at moved a year ago I mapped out the different route I could take to work. I am a map person. I just enjoy them so this was actually a fun activity for me. The first options that came up on the apps I used were the fastest routes. These usually involve highways. They aren't the routes that are the least miles but the routes that are suppose to take the least time. The shortest route in miles turned out to be the most beautiful. It goes past lakes, woods, parks, and stately homes. It does not take any longer to drive than the so called fastest route. But it is such a lovely trip that I wish it did.
    1766 days ago
    Thanks for sharing! I loved it!
    Happy Sparkversary and many more years of wandering and finding new paths!
    emoticon emoticon
    1766 days ago
  • BERRY4
    I haven't listened yet, but in terms of "tourism"...I've always said we all need to take time out / away from the known and travel to the unknown. To realize that even though we are ALL human beings, we experience the world a bit differently and the things we take for granted in our safe settings are by in large NOT how the whole world lives.

    Here's to the journey of life and living! emoticon
    1766 days ago
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