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  1. Thanks
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    @Brewer5 Happy Birthday!!!   it’s a great day to be a day 1!  It’s weird how time works for us and then all of the sudden some where along the way it works against us.  I’ll be 40 on the 16th and I was telling my dad I just don’t think I’m as old as he was when he turned 40.  Any whos Have a happy anniversary of your born on date doing only the things that truly make you happy!
  2. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Before the rest of my family wakes up ~ and while I can think straight:
    Today I am 41 years old.
    I've had at least a few grandmothers live to 100 years old - or close - but I don't see that it will be the case with me.  I have been a smoker - off and on - since I was 14 years old.  
    So, let's just say I'm at a halfway point.
    The past few days I have felt "off" - because I've been OFF.  I remember feeling really good ... I remember sitting here and the thoughts and ideas just flowing ... I remember feeling so good, like I could do anything.
    I'm not even sure now when I got off track ~ and I'm not going to go back and look.  What I am sure about is this:  This has to stop.  There are too many things I want to do ... and too many days have gone by, not doing the very best I can do for my body.
    Day 1 today.  No, there will not be wine - sorry, husband.  No, there will not be dessert.  I am over it.
    I'm not going to sit here and say, "I really need to do ______" or "I am going to cut out _______".
    I am going to STOP with the damned lotus flowers, and get on with living my best life.
  3. Like
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Oh no that’s ridiculous about the refinance.  Oops who would have guessed.  Saving eat out money is a great NSV.  We have definitely eaten out so much less, like from once or twice a day to once a week.  
  4. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    February numbers are in:
    Again, we've spent about the same amount of money on food each month (too much) ~ but restaurant spending is down ~ even more than January was.  
    In the 6 months prior to coming back to W30, we'd spent 33-56% of our food money at restaurants.
    January was down to 20%.
    February was down to 16%.
    What's cool about this is that it's not really intentional - there has been no big announcement, like "Hey, guys, we're going to eat at home!"  
    It's really just a result of me feeling better.  I lead the pack.
  5. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    I have about ... 1/3 of the master bedroom to finish ~ and then it will be DONE.
    There are other rooms of the house I want to do, also, and I will ~ but the big push has been to get the flooring down in the rooms where I'd already torn out the carpet.  Turns out FHA wasn't a huge fan of letting our loan go through with concrete floors.    So I've had to get that done.  It's been completely holding up our refinance.
    And I think I probably just realized this morning how much extra stress this has added.
    Stress can be GOOD - I like doing the flooring.  But there are a lot of other things I have to do in life that I don't like as much ... and there are only so many hours in the day.  I could go on, but you all know what I mean.  Sometimes we take things on like Superwoman ~ and we can do it!  Because, of course, we are awesome.    But there needs to be a period of rest and recovery afterwards.  Your life can't be all Superwoman, all the time.
  6. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    @BabyBear ~ that song made me literally LOL and probably cry some more this morning when I saw your message in my email.  I then texted it to my son's girlfriend's mom.  And shared it later with my husband.  It's a good one - thank you.
    @Amy_Michigan ~ I hear you.  I'm sort of back to "fail to plan = plan to fail" (and I use the word "fail" loosely, as I don't really feel like a failure at all).  I decided to finish the frozen meals.  I decided not to buy any more RX bars or Larabars.  But what was my plan after that?  ... Well, see, I really didn't have one.  Lol.  My food today was pretty atrocious by W30 standards, but not that bad overall.  It wasn't compliant.  I'm sure I'll be posting a new Day 1 soon.  And that's okay.  I'm getting a lot of other good things accomplished right now.
    Thanks for the compliments on my hair.  It hasn't looked that nice since the day I had it done, of course.    I'm too busy to mess with it most days.  But it was the first time my hairdresser has actually said, "Wait, let me take some pictures!" ~ so I'm glad she had fun with it.  My kids had me do all sorts of colors in their hair when we were homeschooling, and even when they first went to public school ... but I guess they grew out of it.  Now it's my turn.  I've decided you're never too old to have fun.  And anyone who judges me for it can stick their opinion where the sun don't shine.   
  7. Thanks
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    @Brewer5 a great song by Macy Gray comes to mind “Teenagers”
    if it ain’t your hormones it’s theirs.   Hang in there and don’t kill them off just yet they may still prove to be useful. 
  8. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Amy_Michigan in Like an Onion   
    Glad you are still hanging in there!  Love your hair!!!  I'm struggling to restart day one after messing up...I'm in a transition and I just need to start day 1 again and have that first day be successful as a jumping off point.  And not just compliant..successful in a way that makes me feel proud of my food choices and meal template.  I know that's not required on a whole30 but I feel like if I don't do that I won't start off on the right foot.  However, I'm kind of on the same wavelength as you in my thinking that as long as I'm still here logging I'm at least being accountable and eating way better than I would be if I wasn't logging.  So it's all good.  
  9. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Thanks, @BabyBear ~ it's one of those things I've thought about over the years, and finally was like "Yeah, let's do it."
    Day 2 today, and it was not a great day ... so I won't post a lot.  I'm just not feeling it.  Really I just need to say one word:  TEENAGERS.  
    Tomorrow is a new day.  Bring it.
  10. Thanks
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    I love love love your new hair!  So sassy yet a little classy too!  
  11. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Day 1 again today ... and you'd think perhaps I'd get tired/embarrassed posting that ~ but not really.  Each time, it feels like "Whew, I wandered off in the woods there for a minute, and that was kind of scary!" and it's really just relief to be back on the intended path.  It feels good.
    Got my hair done yesterday ~ that's always time well spent with an old friend: my hairdresser.    I have talked many times about us getting together outside of the salon and going to lunch sometime ... but we never actually have.  Yesterday there was talk of a 4-wheeling / camping trip.  The poor girl has never rode a 4-wheeler, and she wants to.  I now feel it's my duty to correct that.  Haha.  But seriously ~ would be cool if we could actually plan a trip this year.  "Someday" is just BS, sometimes.  I'm like: no, seriously, let's do it.
    I've been natural, all shades of brown, blonde, and red ~ but I've never done anything quite like this:

    Wild orchid.  I love it.
    What does it say about me?  
    It actually represents a lot of different things that I have going on right now.  I joked with my husband: "Business in the front, party in the back".  Lmao.
    I don't know.  There's probably a giant post in my mind for this one.  I could think long and deep.  But for now ~ I'm off to kick this weekend's ass.  GOAL: get this flooring done.  
    Hope you all are doing well!
  12. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Tonight is a work event ~ sort of.  
    It's an art show (strangely, at a local long-term care facility) where you can preview pieces that are going to be available at a dinner/auction in April - which IS a work event.
    It's called "Art & Wine' ~ and yes, I am tempted to go, and sip on a glass of wine, and socialize ... and my boss just sent me a text late last night, confirming that there WILL be fancy chocolates.  
    I've never been to something like this before.  There's a part of me that wants to go, and a part of me that wants to stay home in my winter cave with my cubs.  
    I think I would regret not going ... but I would not regret going.  Sometimes I have to look at things in those terms:  "How will I feel if _____ ?"  And make decisions carefully.  Because I'm not a fan of regret.
    I would also like to check out this facility.  It's close to my home, and I've thought many times about applying there to work PRN (as needed) days as a nurse.
    And speaking of that ... I found myself applying late last night for a Director of Nursing role at an assisted living facility.  And I was excited about it.  I'm not even actively looking for jobs right now -- I'm really not.  This was one I stumbled across / was sort of dropped in my lap ~ then I found myself thinking about it.  Off and on, all day yesterday.
    I don't know if I'll ever hear from them ~ but the interview would be good experience.  I learn A LOT from interviews ... about different places, different people, and how they do things.  I enjoy the conversation.  And I am learning to trust my gut -- both literally and figuratively.  (I have a strange gut, and that is a subject for a different day ... if I listened to my actual gut all the time, I may never leave the house.)   I can "read" people, ykwim?  So every interview is a chance to sharpen those skills.
  13. Thanks
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Oh how I struggle with gray areas!  My nature sees black and white and I struggle making room for grey.  I’m learning in food freedom there is s lot of gray, and that has terrified me.  I am learning to navigate the gray and finding a world of other colors in the process.  
    I have hung many labels on myself that many people have handed me through the tears.  I am removing these labels and taking a good hard look at them to see if these are labels I should even be carrying in the first place.  
    Good thoughts to chew on
  14. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Day 2 yesterday, Day 3 today ~ yes, still trucking along ... just really productive in other areas right now ~ in my journal, not so much.   
    Flooring is officially done in the hallway, living room, and giant (long) dining room.  I have one (sadly, the master) bedroom left to do.  Woke up yesterday and today to some sciatica pain that I don't think I've really experienced since I was pregnant with my first child ... in 2001.  WTH.  Lol.  And I realized in that moment this morning:  I'm not really happy unless I'm pushing myself.  Amy talked about being Type B, and I wondered what it would be like to say that.  Sometimes I think it would be nice.  But it's definitely not how I'm made.
    I think about a lot of things I don't have time to post.  
    Lately I've been thinking about labels:  Type A / Type B, introvert / extrovert ... etc.
    I think it can be great to learn more about yourself and to work with your strengths.  
    I also think there are some labels we tend to put on ourselves that can work against us, and perhaps are not entirely true.
    Black/white thinking rarely proves useful to me.  I see many, many shades of gray.  
    I see chains we have wrapped around ourselves, holding us down ... and some of them have been there so long ~ we don't even remember that WE were the ones who put them there.  But wait:  If I could put it on - that means that I can probably find the key to take it off.  I've been saying that to myself more and more lately.  It's been good.
  15. Thanks
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    This has me applauding and cheering screaming “YES THIS!!!!!!”   I want to save the world, but the best thing I can do for my world is to save me first!  This food experiment is about so much more than just the 30 days!  I almost feel sad for those who miss that, but what they choose to get out of it is what they get.  
  16. Like
    BabyBear got a reaction from SchrodingersCat in Like an Onion   
    This has me applauding and cheering screaming “YES THIS!!!!!!”   I want to save the world, but the best thing I can do for my world is to save me first!  This food experiment is about so much more than just the 30 days!  I almost feel sad for those who miss that, but what they choose to get out of it is what they get.  
  17. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Day 1 again yesterday ... Yes.  Let's see.
    I had black coffee in the morning, a frozen meal at work, followed by an RX bar, came home and ate pistachios, had another frozen meal, and another RX bar.  I was having a hard time winding down for bedtime (read: was feeling pretty bitchy and overstimulated) so I ate a cashew cookie larabar, and fell asleep soon after.  
    I know this isn't very pretty when typed out ~ and I'm still a work in process.  The point is simply that it was compliant.    There are only so many things I'm currently allowing in my backpack, because I know what happens when it gets too heavy.
  18. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    @SchrodingersCat ~ I hope you're able to reign it in soon.  I am all for showing ourselves grace and understanding ... and I encourage that.  But I'm also a hard-core W30 Believer at heart.
    This has nothing to do with Dallas and Melissa ~ although I am thankful to them for their book, and for this forum.  It has nothing to do with challenges, recipes, rules, social media, etc.  I think anyone who comes and goes after 30 days has entirely missed the point.
    My beliefs are a solid foundation of what I already instinctively know as a human + what I have learned through my own experience + what I have now seen as a nurse.
    The complete devastation of dementia all by itself is enough to make me stop and go:  Holy... SHIT.  
    I wish we could all sit in a room and actually speak to one another ~ because I want to be clear here that my tone is not one of fear.  Righteous indignation is the phrase that comes to mind.
    For 1200+ hours last year, I was a part of a system that "cares" for our elderly in this way:
    They almost never go outside, unless a family member takes them Their meals are too high on sugar/carbs, and too low on protein - always - even the diabetic meals There is a pill for everything ... yet everyone still feels bad I could go on.  I won't.
    My point here is this:  I cannot save the world.  I could not make a real and lasting difference in the role I had chosen in long-term care.  I am one person, with one big heart, and a pretty good brain ~ if I take care of it.
    What I CAN do is this:  I can try to save myself.  I can make the decision to honor the body I'm given with choices that will support, and not destroy it.  And by living through that process, making that conscious choice, day after day after day ... I can make the world a better place ~ by being the best me I can possibly be.
    And I can encourage others to do the same.  Because our choices do matter.  Each day is a gift.  So how will you spend it?
  19. Thanks
    BabyBear got a reaction from Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    @Brewer5 I think it was great that you were able to sneak away with your husband and spend some time together.   It sounds like the short time off plan served you and furthered your journey towards being able to live in a place of food freedom where delicious Whole Foods reign supreme with some tantalizing treats thrown in for pure enjoyment from time to time.   
  20. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    And on Wednesday night, when I decided I was going to have a night "off" with my husband (which really was a GREAT decision) -- I could not have pictured myself the next morning, telling him to just go to McDonald's and get me a breakfast meal ~ and yes, I'd just go ahead and eat the bread on the sandwich, because maybe it would help soak up some of this hangover nastiness in my stomach.  
    Our family has been "gluten-free" since 2012.  I'm not kidding.  I can't make this shit up.  Lol.
    I realized as I was lying here trying to go to sleep last night, that I said I'd been off work for 5 days ~ and that's not true.  I worked Wednesday, and we escaped town on Wednesday night, when I found out we were both going to have several days off work.  No one here cares - so that's not the point - the point is that it bothers me when I make these errors in my journal, because usually I'm sitting here, deep in thought when I post, and I think about what I'm going to say quite a bit.  Two times now, I've said something incorrectly - and both times, I was under the influence of non-W30 food.
    I'm not being overly dramatic.  I'm saying this "out loud" to myself, here and now, loud and clear -- because it matters.  These choices we make ~ they DO matter.  I do not want to end up in a downward spiral of "WTFever" for weeks, months, or years of my life.  I can feel the difference in my brain, and it is not something I can accurately put into words here.  I just know.
    And my days off weren't even "that" bad.  Really.  For the most part, I've still been eating W30 food - just with a giant Swedish chocolate bar (or two) thrown in from IKEA ~ spread out over four days.  Wine, of course - just that one night.  
    On Saturday, I had a gluten-free pasta meal at an Italian restaurant with my treasured friend from nursing school.  She moved away right after school, and I hadn't seen her in entirely too long.  The time spent together in conversation was great ... but the meal itself was stupid.  Just, dumb.  Like, not even remotely an entire chicken breast for protein in this big bowl of pasta.  ...And I knew at that point that I had officially de-railed.  
    But I'm back today. 
    And I return to W30 with a little bit different perspective, and with some really valuable feedback from my body.  I still call that a win.  
    Happy Monday!
  21. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    @Amy_Michigan I'm sorry I left you hanging!    It wasn't the person on the other end of the phone, or even the content of the call itself ~ as much as the realization that having an actual conversation, even for just a few minutes had such an impact on my mood.  Now, this can go both ways, and I think it's something to really be aware of:  What sort of energy do others create in you?  Is it good or is it bad?  And more importantly:  What does it mean?  What does it tell us about ourselves?
    So often, we'll say that someone "just rubs us the wrong way" or "I can't put my finger on it, there's just something about him" etc. etc.  I think it's a lot easier to pinpoint the people who don't make us feel good inside ... and for the most part, we instinctively engage in avoidance behaviors with that person.
    But what about the people and situations which do make us feel good?  Do we actively seek them out?
    Avoiding a person or situation - I think that's the easier part.  We know that we only have so much gas in our tank, and we will do what we have to do to protect it.
    What I think is more difficult, and perhaps does not come as naturally to us ~ is pursuing and acquiring the human interaction that helps fill our gas tank.  There is a lot that could be said about this -- but the #1 reason that stands out to me is the fear of rejection.  "What if they don't like me?  What if they think I'm a weirdo?  What if? What if?  What if?"  
    I've got flooring to do today (shocker!) so I will stop with that line of thought for now.  
    Our evening away was awesome, and we decided we definitely need to do it more often.  We actually went and stayed in a hotel ~ very spur-of-the-moment ~ and we went to IKEA for the first time, etc etc.  Lots of good things I can't post about right now.  
    I hope you all are well.  I'll be back ............ Happy Sunday!
  22. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    I'm not going to number today.  Not yet, anyway.
    I had a big post started here ~ sounding kind of down, like I was feeling.  Then I had a phone call that strangely lifted my spirits.  (More on that later, perhaps).  Plus my morning coffee is kicking in.
    So I'm going to leave it at this:  I'm going to get off the couch now, and I'm going to go kick this day's ass.  Then tonight, I might have some wine.  With my husband.
    And life will go on.  And it will be good.   
  23. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Day 4 today ~ and the floor is coming along beautifully.  
    You would think, living in a home with four males aged 13-43, that I might have some help ... but I really don't.  I'm not typing that out in a bitter PMS state.  It's just a layer of my onion that I'm putting out here to observe.  
    There is a sense of pride and accomplishment, seeing our home transform ... row after row after row ... and I will always be able to look at it and say:  I did that.  It's not perfect, and it never will be ~ but it's mine.
    I've come to realize that I have a need to create.  I think, perhaps, that need has gone unfulfilled at many points in my life ... and I wasn't even aware of it being a need, until recently.
    Now that I am aware of it, I will cultivate it.  I have a lot of ideas in my mind, all the time.  I will try not to get frustrated if those around me cannot see and share my vision.  I most likely don't need their help ~ I just need their support.  Get out of my way, and let me create.  
    I popped over to Amy's log today, and it was so interesting to see her talking about her Outlander addiction.
    ...Oh, @Amy_Michigan ... girl ... I so hear you.  
    I read approximately the first three books, before I lost interest.  That was years ago.  But I just finished watching the entire Poldark series, while working on my floor over the weekend.  Then I'm like:  well, crap, now what?  
    So I go to Amazon - realize that apparently I had purchased the first season of Outlander, years ago - and apparently I had watched the first couple of episodes.  I started back up, somewhere in the middle of the third episode.  I'm just thinking, "Whatever ... it's something to listen to while I work on this floor."
    For the past two nights, I have stayed up until close to 2:00 am -- not working on the floor, because that involves banging with a mallet, and my kids are in bed -- but watching this damned show.  Last night was The Wedding, and ... good Lord.  I mean, seriously.  Seriously.  Lol.  I'm not sure if it's a good thing for me to be watching.  It made me want to drink wine with my husband, for one thing.  And it made me realize how far, far, far away it is from my reality.  It's far away from everyone's reality, clearly, and that's why we love it.  It's an escape.
    So I started thinking along these lines:  Is it better for us to shut things like this out, and not stir up those feelings of discontent?  Is it better for us to watch things like this, and acknowledge that perhaps this is an area of our life that could use some ... weed-pulling?  
    Hmmm.  I am going to keep deep-thinking on that one.  The conclusion I come to might decide whether I'm buying wine again anytime soon.  Which brings up the question:  Why do we need wine?  I'm not saying everyone does ... but I am going to call a spade a spade, and say that our level of intimacy is most certainly enhanced by alcohol.
    Man.  Now my brain hurts, and I have to go to work.    As always ~ best wishes for a glorious day!
  24. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Day 3 today ~ and back to work!  
    It's amazing that I can type that out and realize that I actually look forward to going to work.    What the heck?  Is that a thing?  Do people do that?  Haha...  
    I've always liked this job ~ and there were some days in nursing where I was happy to go back on some level.  Those days just also had an impenetrable, underlying sense of anxiety, because it's the nature of the profession to never know what the day is going to bring.  I can handle "rolling with it" pretty well in most areas of life, but when people's lives are in your hands ... it requires a level of constant vigilance that is just exhausting.  I did that day after day after day, often for 15-16 hour shifts.  {I wonder why I feel burnt out on nursing.}
    So I'll keep it short today and just say:  I'm so glad I listened to that little voice.  
    I searched on indeed one time for the word "manager" to see what came up in my area.  "I also have the business management degree ... let's just see what else is out there."  My employer had listed this job as "Executive Assistant/Office Manager" -- and if she had not included the word "manager" -- we never would have found each other.  That is crazy.  I have become a part of the family, and I cannot imagine where I'd be and what I would be doing today if I hadn't listened to that little voice in that moment.
    As it is ~ I did listen ~ and now I get to go spend my day away from the chaos of my house ... in a wonderful, quiet, uncluttered, office space with the two beautiful Irish setters who have become my very best work buddies.  ...Sorry, boss, if you read this someday.  You know the dogs are why I stay.  
    Everybody, as always, have a fantastic Monday.  I hope you listen to that little voice and make great things happen.
  25. Like
    BabyBear reacted to Brewer5 in Like an Onion   
    Day 2 today.  Funny how I feel confident going ahead and posting that in the morning, instead of having to wait until the day is over to see if I make it through.   
    My period showed up like clockwork this time ~ none of this "several days early" business like I had last month.  And you know what?  No, I don't feel like a crazy bitch.  I didn't think I felt that way last month, either ... but looking back, I know that I was unhappy/stressed with several things in my life, and I was pretty vocal about it.  I don't think there's necessarily anything wrong with that.  Some things really do need to be said.  But I'm going to keep an eye out over these next few days, and be mindful of both how I am speaking to my family and what I am saying.
    Yes... there is no doubt I am in a better place now.
    Imagine your gas tank is sitting at "E" with the light on ... you can still drive around, and the car is still fully functioning.  Each night, you have just enough money to fill your gas tank to 1/4.  Whew!  The "E" light goes off, and you feel better.
    Imagine this cycle day, after day, after day.  
    Imagine that your tank never sits at 1/2 ~ let alone full.  Is it possible to function and be happy this way?  Sure, it is.  But you won't go any further than your current routine.  You will have just enough to get where you need to go, and back home again.
    But what if, one day, someone handed you an extra $10, and you put that extra $10 in your gas tank?  If you are smart at all, that's exactly what you'd do -- and now, you have created a new baseline.  Not only can you get through most days without the "E" light having to come on at all, but if you needed or wanted to go further in a day, you could.
    And you'd enjoy that feeling of not running on "E".  It would boost your confidence in your ability to go places, and it would reduce your overall daily stress.  And you'd think to yourself that, the next time someone gives you $10, it is most definitely going in your gas tank.
    This is how Whole 30 is for me.  I'm not in it for the 30 days ... I have been there, done that.  I am in it for the long haul.
    I realized, after I posted yesterday morning, that I referred to my grandmother as my great-grandmother.  I sort of laughed to myself and thought I'd make a joke here about "Mexican food brain".  Haha... I blame the Mexican food!  
    But that's not funny.
    I read Grain Brain and Brain Maker by Dr. Perlmutter years ago, and I was a big fan of his work at the time.  I read both of them more than once, and they were heavily highlighted and loved.
    What happened to me?  Where did I go?
    I took a journey that was necessary, and I did what I thought I had to do to survive that journey.  I've been in survival mode.  For years now.  Holy shit.
    I was having those "Grain Brain" moments before I came back here ... more often than I'd like to admit.  
    But there is a force, deep within us, that says:  WAKE UP.  
    Like Percy Jackson and the lotus flowers.  Poseidon says to him:  WAKE UP.  And Percy realizes that he's been in a dream-like state, and that time has been passing by -- quickly.  He begins to refuse the lotus flowers -- which, keep in mind, pisses off those around him (!) because they all want him to stay in this state, in this place.  Forever.  
    But Percy is a smart guy, and he's got Poseidon watching out for him.  He runs away from those &$%! lotus flowers, and he goes on to accomplish great things.  Huge things.  Meaningful things.
    So Grandma: I'm sorry.  You are a Great Grandmother, and even a Great Great Grandmother.  But to me, you are Grandma.  The picture of strength and mental clarity for the first ~38 years of my life ... and an inspiration to me like no other.