Stress Makes You Fat? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

Was talking to best friend Diana (the Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams Diana) on the phone the other day . . . girl talk, about the Oscars, about her granddaughter being accepted Cal Poly ~ (oops, yes, MUSICA!) Anyway, the conversation was gradually moving toward me telling her how shocked I was to discover that the thing that may have been keeping me from losing weight in any sort of a sturdy, healthy, long-lasting way, without cravings, for years, no matter how I starved myself, was stress. Up until lately, I thought stress was just one of those things, like the weather, you see it and ignore it. Diana’s a nurse, and her answer was, “DU-UH? You’re shocked? I’ve been telling you for years, you need to rest more!!!”  Normally I ignore her (for obvious reasons) because I don’t have time for resting, it’s boring, I feel fine, I’m busy! But this time, after all my recent investigating, I knew better, and replied, “Well, all you had to say was, ‘Stress makes you FAT’ and I would have listened!” 🙃 I’m probably last on my block to know, but just in cases, I thought I’d write a post about it . . .Interestingly I wrote this (above) in 1999 in my Girlfriends Forever Book. And it’s still very good information! Too bad I haven’t been paying much attention to it! And, because I didn’t it know then, I didn’t mention, ‘Stress Makes You Fat!’ But it’s even worse than that, if anything could be worse, too much stress has a life of it’s own, like the flu or diphtheria  ~ it affects EVERYTHING: your thoughts and feelings, your relationships, everything from mood to skin to hair, your vital organs, your belly fat ⚡️, your nervous system, your mental acuity, everything that is you, even the quality of your sleep, your ability to lose weight or even be happy. Ignore it at your peril! What I did get right was, “It’s cumulative and it sneaks up on you, especially when you are too busy to notice.” That’s what happened to me. For a long time, maybe the last ten years, I’ve had lots of happy stress, but sad stress too, and I’ve been extra busy, applying self-imposed pressure, with book writing and publishing, travel, speech-a-fying, and there were huge losses, like my dad, my brother, and Girl Kitty, worry for my mom, her brother, my dad’s wife, making sure they are all cared for ~ so busy with everything, I didn’t notice that stress was building up. It’s stuff we all have in some form or another, some so much worse than mine, which makes us take our own for granted, and just plow through and do what needs to be done, because that’s life and we are brave and amazing people.I think what saved me from total disintegration was how much I LOVE what I do, plus the automatic exercise and walking I do most everyday. Meditation, too. And girlfriends. All of them, big de-stressers, but there is so much more we can do to help ourselves if we have awareness!

And for any of you suffering, as I’ve been, from constant dietus non-workingus . . . complete with spare tire, nagging sweet tooth, cravings, and little irritating symptoms that seem to be disconnected, it just might be stress-related inflammation talking to you! It’s a stressed-out world these days, we’re all feeling it. Down-time is almost nil. Phones, blue lights from electronics, mind-numbing news, sugar squashed into everything, bad fats, dis-HEART-ening DIS-information, icky drug commercials, bullies on social media, we’re up against a lot. If we don’t take care of ourselves, and rid ourselves of as much of that as we can, no one will do it for us. The Internet is a wealth of information, if you’re curious, and careful who you listen to, and don’t believe everything you read ~ If you’re saying to yourself this could this be me, there’s lots of help out there. I’ve been having a field day with it!  My favorite thing about aging, one of them, is the discovery that you never stop learning! There’s always something to make it a red letter day! It’s been just over three weeks since I began to investigate stress, and five weeks since I changed my eating habits. I’ve lost fourteen pounds without cravings and without feeling hungry!I learned about healthy brain chemicals ~ serotonin, dopamine, endorphins, melatonin, and oxytocin, and how they relate to stress. And best of all, I learned to take a little more time each day to feed them the healthy lifestyle they need. Starting with food . . . they love the whole foods I talked about in the last post. They especially adore that big filling breakfast up there, anti-inflammatory brain-food that helps neurotransmitters protect against stress-causing disease. I mean Dis-Ease. The tension and worry-causers that keep us from noticing how sweet the world can be.💖 I found out that there’s a really good reason we kindred spirits have such an affinity for the little things in life, it’s our natural feminine wisdom telling us something ~ Common sense! Everyday things DO heal our stress and release all those luv-lee brain chemicals that bring happiness and joy to our ordinary extraordinary lives. We just naturally know that a cup of tea is good for us . . . . that puttering around the house . . . . 

. . . and putting flowers in a little vase feels good.

That some sort of yard-sale rescue-operation of a lifetime can make our hearts sing. That clean counters can promote prideful staring. That ironing with a favorite radio program can be a good thing. 

That feeding birds makes us happy.

So does rolling out a pie crust.

Or making chicken stock . . .

. . . and so do the flickering shadows dancing through the trees onto our walls.

Playing with our pets. Pure health.

Girl-talk. Communing with nature. Going barefoot in the grass. Checking things off our lists. Counting our blessings. Doing absolutely anything creative.

Fun thing is, my research told me these everyday little things in life actually have a basis in science . . . doing them releases those brain chemicals I was talking about . . . that reduce inflammation, balance our systems to keep cravings at bay, help us sleep, and cause happy feelings! How wonderful to discover it’s possible to heal yourself, without medicine, by doing more of the same! When we see stress coming, we can learn to trigger a relaxation response with deep breathing and immediately begin to feed ourselves from the well of sweetness. Tra-LA! Once again, who’s in charge? We are. 💞

Other natural healers include basking in morning sunlight, sewing, planting flowers, building something, watching CBS Sunday Morning, getting rid of clutter, turning off the news and turning on Turner Classic Movies, meditation, writing in your diary, keeping little bottles of Lavender oil or Vanilla (soaps, bubblebath, candles) nearby for fragrance therapy, making and giving gifts, donating to charity or volunteering, and as noted above, books, Musica, and movies that fill your heart and send you to the moon. Because what we do matters . . .
We women are natural givers, caretakers, nurturers, but it’s important to ask yourself, what am I going to GIVE myself today? 💞 Stretch out in bed before you get up, go for a walk, take a cooking class, an art class, learn to quilt, knit, crochet, all creative endeavors that provide self-sufficiency and release luv-lee brain chemicals that help to keep you healthy. That’s why you feel so happy when you do them! Vote, recycle, love thy neighbor, be an elf, because when you do something for the earth, for your neighborhood, for your family, even putting a wreath on your door, or planting tulips, making compost, or planting a tree, you feel good about yourself. Be a citizen of the world. Pet your kitty. Put something fun on your calendar. There are no photographs in our family albums of my mom exercising with 
Jack LaLanne’s TV program because she was the one who took all the photos! But I remember coming home from school and finding her on the living room floor with two or three little ones around her, everyone flailing their legs in the air. She set a healthy example that has lasted a lifetime. Exercise, another natural way to overcome the worst effects of stress. Free endorphins right there for the taking.

I do these little exercises with weights every other day. I’m like my mom in another way, food isn’t food to me either. It’s protein, starch, and ruffage, it’s dopamine and melatonin. And yes . . . what you feed your body matters, in more ways than one.

You’ll never go hungry again if you feed yourself from the well of sweetness! Oatmeal with apples, blueberries, walnuts, mixed seeds and cinnamon, melatonin galore! And you won’t be hungry until lunch.

Check out the delicious dopamine ⬆️ dripping with Omega-3s and antioxidants! Learn about good fats and bad ones, especially watch out for trans fats in packaged food. And you know what stress thrives on and not in a good way? Sugar, which is in almost everything, and processed carbs. Stay away, eat healthy cage-free eggs, avocados, spinach, nuts and seeds, sweet potatoes, leafy greens, artichokes, and beans. Steam, scramble, saute, and bake. Drink lots of water and green tea.

Hope this keeps you busy and healthy for the rest of the winter! It’s been making me happy, I hope it helps you too!

 So, perfect timing, our little handiwork embroidery project (where you will definitely find joy in doing and giving) ~ Jack and his Quilt Kit has arrived! I have him here in my studio, and cover him with his quilt at least once a day, I tuck him in. He’s even softer and cuter than he looks.💞 Has all the attributes of the Pillsbury Doughboy. 

As for our butter dishes and tiny Courage vases and the rest of the little dishes and things, I’m so sorry how late they are. I have been sending distress notices to the manufacturer, lighting small 🔥 fires . . . not yelling per say, but beginning to think about it! 📢 I’m being told all the time, “soon.” I know they ARE coming, just when I’m not sure. I asked yesterday for an exact ETA, estimated time of arrival, but have not heard back yet. Last clear-ish picture I received was “two more weeks” and that was three days ago. But two weeks from when is what I want to know. I promise to keep you updated. I’m so sorry!

But, look what DID come in for approval! Took ‘er out for a test drive this morning and she passed with flying colors! All four cup designs are approved and being made in England as we speak. ETA: end of March, beginning of April depending mostly on what happens at customs. I also placed an order for the new A Year in the English Countryside Wall-Calendar for 2020! Thank you for preordering so I knew how many to get!

I had the girls over for TGIF last snowy Friday night. T’was wonderful. Fed them soup and salad in front of the fire.

Solved all the world’s problems and laughed ourselves silly. So good for what ails you. I wob my girlfriends.So that’s it for today ~ at ease my darlings . . . and please, stay that way.💋 It’s almost spring!


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476 Responses to Stress Makes You Fat? Why didn’t anyone tell me?

  1. jan Lane says:

    Stress can cause the body to release cortisol which is a hormone that does promote a tendency to gain weight, or to hang on to extra weight which is hard for the body to lose and return to a more healthy weight. I also think that when people are stressed it can affect the appetite. Some seek comfort and solace with eating, and some neglect to bother about food, and curiously enough, cause an anorexic type of reaction.
    I feel that in general, people benefit from balance. That would mean a balance in every area of life.
    Many stressors are exogenous. That means that there is little we can do to change the situation, but we can perhaps influence how we react or interpret events.
    We cannot control the world, or other individuals. But we can choose to view things from a different angle.
    Healthy eating is always a good idea. No matter how young or how old we are. Cooking healthy can be an adventure and allows for creativity.
    You are a naturally outgoing and creative person. That is a blessing. Some of us are not as easily guided toward positive habits or unburdening thought processes. We are linked to genetic predispositions and our environment can amplify negative energy.
    How to focus on the regenerative and avoid the degenerative……………well, it is a challenge to Eeyore type personalities. Everyone is different. Stress can be positive and negative and such is the world, Ying and Yang.
    What we put into our bodies or for that matter, what we put on our bodies, can affect the way we think Think fresh and healthy, you may not get a sugar rush, but then again you won’t have a rebound hypoglycemic event.
    Lots of people eat for comfort. Same can be said for other possibly unhealthy habits. People might smoke too much, or drink too much, or engage in illicit or prescription drugs, or whatever their vice might be. It is our attitude toward our body, and when we have loathing or self hatred, we lose respect for ourselves.
    Aging is a big concern in our society. We are living longer than our ancestors. We have more time to focus on issues which previous generations did not do as much of. Obesity is something that is increasing in an alarming rate, and it targets even the very young. I think that by and large it comes from being off kilter and out of balance.
    Joy and happiness cannot come from eating an entire box of cookies, or by going on a shopping spree and spending money we do not have on things we do not really need. Joy comes from within and our problem today is that we spend very little time in that department. We do anything to avoid introspection or self care. We are afraid of wasting time. We consider self indulgence in a very curious way.
    I am not struggling with weight. But stress caused me to suffer from a very significant illness last year.
    What I an trying to do now, as it is apparent that many stressors are not going to automatically disappear, is to focus on living in the moment. I was one to cling to the past. Focused on the hurts and disappointments and so called failings of the past. I lived in fear and anxiety for the future. Living in the moment is just that. Minute by minute. Because anything longer than that, and I begin to allow the negative energies to overpower the positive.
    When we retire we are often in for a shock as our world changes drastically. As we get older, our bodies change. We experience loss. We suffer from loneliness or isolation. Events carry us with a strong current down muddy waters.
    Live in the moment? Yes. Fix a cup of tea. Go sit in the sunshine. Feed the birds. Listen to your favourite music. Have yourself an “occasional” treat. Make the moment work to what gives you inner comfort that can be sustained and carry one moment into the next, into the next hour, the next day…………..
    Love yourself for who you are today. Nurture that self. Respect that self. Value that self.
    Balance and harmony in all aspects of life will outweigh the occasional bottoming out effect.
    Blessings to each reader, and may you take a moment each day for gratitude. I am going to return to gratitude. I have done it in the past, and like many good habits, I have let it fade. Routine, regularity, exercising and nurturing the positive, dwelling in the light. It is all good.

    • Chris Wells. Knickerbocker, TX says:

      Thank you Jan! A quote I read this morning, “what if you woke up today with only the things you were grateful for yesterday?” I really believe in our gratefulness we will find joy.
      And you are so right, in most cases we cannot change what is happening in our lives only the way we view it and react to it.

      • Jan Lane says:

        Practice gratitude daily. It is a simple act, and I wonder how it is that so often we simply forget to engage in it……….maybe make a list of 3 things every day on the calendar…… of Susan’s!

    • gail kelly, Calif. says:

      So well said Jan!!! Thank you so much for your inspiration. Continue on this positive journey. You really helped allot of us girlfriends.

      • Jan Lane says:

        Thank you, Gail. I guess there are so many ways in which we really can help someone else, even if we are not feeling that inspired or energetic, or feel we have nothing inspiring to say. I love this blog of Susan’s because it puts sunshine into a cloudy day.

    • Auntie Brenda says:

      Thank you, Jan Lane! Very encouraging!

      Thank you Susan! Last 2 blogs have been very encouraging!! And last week a simple act of putting tiny fake daffodils in a little yellow creamer lifts my spirits in hope of Spring every time I look at it!

    • Jaclyn F Krueger says:

      Well written with a thoughtful heart, Jan. Thank you!

    • Jennie Lou says:


  2. Hi Susan,
    Your words of encouragement came when I very much needed to hear them. It’s something we all know but find oh so hard to put into practice. I’m a born caregiver from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. The hardest thing in the world is to say no to anyone except myself. Today, after 6 months of full-time caregiving, my body had a heart to heat with me and said, loud and clear, enough already! Opened up my email and there was your blog full of helpful ideas and thoughtful advice. We truly are not alone! Thank you so much for taking the time to to share with us!! It means more than you know!
    Blessings and hugs!

  3. Shirley Graham says:

    Yes, I know from experience that stress does cause all kinds of problems. My daughters hair is an example as it now looks lovely & it started to look so much better after a divorce. We never know at the time just how much we need rest & relaxation. I am trying to go back to painting now after losing my husband 18 months ago. I have always thought that I needed to be busy all the time & am now taking time to watch the birds etc.!! Love your blog & drawings. My husband always gave your calendar to me each year & looked forward to it! Thanks so much!!

  4. Jan Martin says:

    Such wonderful advice! Trying to do some of the same things, reducing sugar is the demon! Haven’t been able to do my walks due to a knee injury. Bah humbug! But still losing weight, slowly. Our son is getting married in July & WILL BE thinner & able to dance with him at their wedding. Have begun my afternoon retreat upstairs in our bedroom, with our pup. Feeling thankful❤️

  5. Lana Wertz says:

    Hello dear Susan! I have so loved your books! Anything you touch is beautiful! Love my calendar too and bluebird cup! Thanks for blog. I want to share that since watching Forks Over Knives a few years ago, my husband and I eat this whole food plant based way-no meat or dairy. My husband got off blood pressure meds after 8 days. I returned to my wedding day weight within a couple of months. It is such a healthy way to eat. We cheat on holidays! Take care and thanks for being you! P. S. I am 74 years old and had trouble keeping weight down in pre and post menopause! I have stayed my low weight for 4 years now!

    • J. B. M. says:

      Lovely to read – a real encouragement! 4 years, guess that’s a true “success story”! 🙂

  6. Patricia says:

    Congratulations ! 14 lb loss in 5 weeks is amazing ! You must feel wonderful and should be very proud of yourself. You have inspired me ! I am tired of feeling tired and miserable……

  7. Liz Sobolik says:

    I agree!! We can make choices that help us. For me that meant going on an Auto Immune, clean-food diet. Hard at first, but now, 9 months later, what a difference! AND I started to watercolor! For years I wanted to, thought it would be too hard, but I LOVE IT!!! You and Beatrix inspired me to jump into the creativity well and for that, I sincerely thank you.

  8. Erin Middlebrooks says:

    Oh Susan. Knowing you through your blog, books, Twitter…really is like have a best girlfriend at my table for tea. A light went on reading this. After 62 super healthy, strong years, it has been one thing after the other. Heart defect requiring surgery soon, a bad fall six months ago from chasing a three year old running toward a parking lot, resulting in a compression clavicle fracture in the worst place due to osteopenia. Lots of shoulder pain still. And lots of aches and pains. Bad ones. In lots of places. I won’t go into crazy detail…..but before all this I had an insane amount of stress (I had a lovely store that just couldn’t survive anymore) and still have a fair bit. Just life stuff. Like you. But reading this, the light just went on. Weight is an issue I can’t seem to beat, sugar cravings, yet I get queasy when I eat sugar now, and I am sure that these aches and pains are inflammation. Everywhere. So my question is this, best girlfriend, where did you get your information about diet and inflammation. Are you just following a simple scratch diet? Are you eliminating some things other than white sugar? Obviously a focus on healthy ingredients. Where do I/we start!?

    • sbranch says:

      Inflammation is so huge. I love that you’re seeing that. I think you’re right. I just went down the rabbit hole on the Internet, googling Inflammation, causes, stress relationship, foods to fight it, everything I could think of. One thing leads you to another. Don’t listen to people with something to sell, hospitals and medical centers are full of info, read and read, then put two and two together to form your own plan. Whole foods, vegetables, protein, fruit, seeds and nuts, those are the things that heal you. Nothing packaged, it’s all filled with additives. Sugar FEEDS inflammation. Read about healthy oils too. Pick the ones you want to use. Find out what things you can DO, like meditation, deep breathing, all those good things that feed your soul. That’s what I did. You’ll feel so much better in a very short time! Let me know! xoxoxo

      • Erin Middlebrooks says:

        Thank you so much Sue. I feel like I’m on my way. You gave me the key!!

      • Jan Lane says:

        I am a nurse by profession. Before that, I was a flight attendant. Helping others was a part of the job. Motherhood is another reason many of us get full time into service mode.
        Talking about hospitals and the medical profession selling ideas and products is another thing. What we have is right at our fingertips. We just need to think about it and put this knowledge to work in a positive way.
        The medical profession seems to want all of us to be on some sort of pill to make us better. These pills are really of questionable benefit and often render more harm to the body than good.
        We do know how to help ourselves in so many ways. Thank you Susan, for sharing your discoveries and new insights. We all have something important to share. We are all of value and this is a good thing.

  9. Mary May says:

    Hi Susan,
    I agree with everything you said and should probably print your post and reread it everyday! I would like to add something that my thyroid doctor told me a few years ago that has helped me when the pounds start to creep up: women need to cut down on calories as they approach 60. Our metabolisms really slows down. And, this goes along with what you say about eating the right foods: those calories better come from healthy, nutritious foods that provide all the good stuff we need to maintain and prolong good physical and mental wellbeing. Anyway, every once in awhile I get really retro and count calories for a few days. I’m always surprised how quickly they add up and am reminded to cut my portion sizes a bit. Sure enough, little by little, I’ll drop some weight.
    Thank you for sharing your good food/good health/happy life ideas…I always feel better when I reflect upon them.

    • sbranch says:

      I do that too. It’s helpful to have an idea of what’s up in calorie world! No one has to DO anything about it if they don’t want, but head out of sand is always best!

  10. Carolyn from Pittsburgh says:

    Dear Susan,
    Bless you. I needed you and what you had to say today and there you were.
    Fantastic. Thank you so much.

  11. Elaine Woodford says:

    Dear Susan: I read your whole blog, now I am trying my best to ignore it. :-(. I KNOW, I am BAD!!!!!! Loved all your pictures and sayings tho. Does that count? AND, I adore your checked lampshade. I’ve seen it before in other photos. Your dishes, table and lamp and window make me very happy! Keep doing what you are doing to de-stress and eat properly. Maybe it will catch on with me by osmosis.

  12. Penny says:

    Thank you for your update on the trio mini vases 🌺🌸🌷!!! Some thing to look forward to …surrounded by 5’ of snow & more to come Wednesday & Thursday. I have read many books ❤️ …two of my friends published two weeks from each other 😊! Crotcheted over 50 hats for our local resource center for homeless & young adults that have out grown the Foster Care system. Also completed another spinner from ZENTANGLE for my grandchildren’s game nights . ❤️ It’s all keeping the balance in this life isn’t it ? I too have changed eating strategies & in a Year have lost 30 lbs . 😎! When weather is good I’m on Lake Tahoe Kayaking or hiking forested trails …but with winter taking s strong hold on us -I head to the gym 4 times s week . It is so good for us to take the care of ourselves…we can give that much more to others that way .💫
    Keep up your good care Susan you are such a wonderful light in this most difficult of times on this earth 🌍!
    ❤️ Penny 🌹

  13. KHill says:

    Susan…Thank you! More than you can know, for your post today and all the beautiful artwork in between which brings a smile to my face.

  14. Valerie says:

    Hi Susan,
    I’m a born caregiver from the top of my head to the tips of my toes. The only person I can say no to is myself. I wear myself down to the nubs before I realize it. My body sat me down for a come to Jesus meeting this morning. I mumbled, I know, I know. Shortly after that I opened my email to find a new post from Susan Branch’s blog. Encouragement and sage advice that was spot on! Once more I’m gently reminded that we do not travel alone. Thank you so much for sharing your journey with us! It means more than you know.
    Love and hugs,

  15. Barbara from northern California says:

    I just watched the movie Dragonwyck (1946) again (Gene Tierney, Vincent Price) in which Vincent’s wife is portrayed as overweight due to eating a lot of sweets, cakes, pastries, etc. The doctor mentions something like “It’s almost as if she’s eating to fill what isn’t there.” I found it fascinating that this same knowledge was known or even just hinted at then, when today it seems mainstream.
    Her particular stress was not being loved, I assume, although perhaps not limited to that.
    Anyway, my point is that self-knowledge is the best way to handle stress and all its ramifications.
    And thank you for bringing all this to our attention. Reminders, individual stories, and personal reflections are all so very helpful and welcome!

  16. Barb says:

    Thank you for a lovely, informative post. And, thank you especially for the photo of Jack. It always makes me smile to see him.

  17. Ann Prins says:

    Winter has caught up with me in being too busy and stressed to the max trying to do too much!, Good advice,now I just have to follow it!,,

  18. Denise says:

    Two years ago (!) I jotted down your recipe for “spicy short ribs”. This past weekend I finally got around to making them. Now, in reference to this blog post, I don’t know how “healthy” the ribs are, but I must say they were absolutely delicious, and oh so easy to make. Hopefully it won’t be two years before I make them again!

    • sbranch says:

      SO delicious! I did find a way to make them healthier . . . make them a day ahead, separate off the juice and put it in the fridge until the fat rises to the top. Then scrape it off and throw it away, put the sauce back with the meat, heat and eat. YUM! I’m not at all anti-fat, but some short ribs have more than their share! Which is why they taste so good!

  19. Dianne Kramer says:

    Susan, thank you for this wonderful, informative, inspirational, beautiful post! I can relate to so much of what you shared with us. I am now truly inspired to follow your path to good health, and I’m anxious to see where it leads — for you and for me. With appreciation ~ Dianne

  20. Erin Middlebrooks says:

    Part two: I’m so inspired. Thinking…..what can I do right now? I’ve just gone out to the greenhouse and seeded a patch of lettuce and kale. It will take a month or a bit more to get my own fresh greens, but if not now, when? Thank you Sue.

    • sbranch says:

      Brilliant, Erin. There is nothing like the food you grow yourself. The doing of it, the nurturing it, the sun the water the sky, the harvesting of it, the tasting of it … it ticks all the boxes of gorgeous self-sufficiency! xoxo

  21. sue says:

    Stress actually makes me loose weight. Got down to 95 pounds after my father died, nothing stayed in my stomach. On a happier note, after reading your last blog I started asking myself the question, what would a strong healthy person do? You see I had been invisioning myself as strong, healthy and vibrant in my 50’s, but wasn’t doing much to make it happen. You gave me this kick in the rear that I needed. A strong healthy person eats nutritious food and takes time to make yummy salads and smoothies. A strong healthy person doesn’t complain about aches and pains they research intergrative doctors in the area and make an appointment. So i had my first appointment with my new doctor today who is going to help me heal with diet, physical therapy and supplements! So excited to start this journey! Thank you Thank you. As always your writing encourages me to be a better me

    • sbranch says:

      Stress can kill us, as you have seen, it has no rules about how. I love that you found a doctor to help you! I love that you took time for yourself, to do the right things for you, putting yourself first for at least a little while every day. Strong, healthy YOU! xoxoxo I know how you feel, it IS exciting!

  22. Sandra Garber says:

    Love, love, love this post. So many good reminders of what I already know. Inspires me all over again. I have such good intentions. We all need to be reminded that we are worth taking care of.

  23. Karen Horrigan says:

    I agree w/ all that you said which is why I cut your “How to be happy” list out of your book, framed it in my cute SB frame, and set it by my bedside. And a few weeks ago, I hosted my first ever SB party for my teacher girlfriends. I bought a yard of SB material to decorate the table, ordered your cupcake holders w/cute msgs to hold appetizers. At each place setting was your Girlfriend book, SB sticky notes, notepad, bookmark, Year- at-a-glance birthday planner, all tied up w/ a pretty pink bow. They stayed for over 4 hours, laughing, crying, sharing! We had a blast and decided we must do it again soon! You’re the perfect antidote and de-stresser to the winter blues (19 snowstorms here in KC!) Thank you for bringing happiness into our lives!!

    • sbranch says:

      Love it Karen. THANK YOU from the bottom of my heart. You can’t know how happy that makes me . . . you are spreading the happiness! Nineteen storms, OH MY! No one deserves spring more than you do!

  24. Pam says:

    I’m probably the millionth person to say it but your work brings peace into my world and does all those good things you were talking about. I’m so grateful.
    Now, if you google “Pioneer Quilt Guild Audrey.” click images. Click on the pink & white square quilt. Scroll down til you see that quilt again. It reminds me if you!!! Your colors, And Even with an Audrey Hepburn quote! And a picket fence! ( I don’t belong to this guild; I just thought you’d love this)
    Much love, Pam

    • sbranch says:

      I do love it. The roses on the fence! How perfect. I love most things Meg Hawkey does! You probably love her website as much as I do . . . so charming for embroiderers!

  25. Cheryle Perry says:

    We know you love us by what you share and give so freely and beautifully with your art and creative writing and ideas; knowledge. You are loved by so many and me! Thank you, Susan! God Bless you and your hubby and kitties.

  26. paula says:


    Tomorrow is my birthday, and I will be eating the ice cream cake !!! my all time weakness, and coffee !

    Hugs from Indiana,

  27. Susan says:

    Once again, I so enjoyed your blog! What a wonderful blog to encourage others to eat healthy! Last September I found out I have allergies to so many different nuts, gluten,soy, wheat, and barley! Only nuts I am able to eat are cashews! I feel so much better and so much energy now! Have learned a lot about our microbiome and how our gut is our first brain😱! I’m now eating sauerkraut that is organic for a healthy gut,too! You’re a great inspiration for many! Thank you! Hope it warms up for you all way up in the north very soon!

  28. Sharon in my little hometown says:

    Hey Susan and girlfriends! I have enjoyed reading the Stress Makes You Fat post and all your comments. It couldn’t have come at a better time for me even though I have lost 20-30 pounds. It’s not because I am trying, but in my case it is stress related. I call it the Divorce Diet. I do not have much of an appetite and when I do, it’s hard to swallow food when you are crying. This has been going on 2 and 1/2 years since I left my scary and life-threatening situation. I am now 58 and we were married for 32 years. I would never have made it this far without my girlfriends even though most of them are on the coast where my safe haven (our supposed retirement home) was sold out from under me. I purchased a tiny home in my hometown and my sweet pet Daisy and I have been holed up here ever since. The mediation agreement and working out of the details has been very one-sided, his side of course, the same as in your divorce Susan. I have struggled to keep my head up, be strong, and fight for my share, but as in most similar cases, people with his type of behavior pattern always win. I finally gave up the fight and signed the mediation agreement last Thursday. The stress has been unbearable. I rarely get even four hours of sleep each night. A court date is being set as I write this. I know that I have much better days ahead, but I still have a long road to travel with lots of details to work out. I have to say that I don’t know what I would have done all the last years at the The Farm when his treatment of me and my son was so bad if I had not had the Susan Branch Blog to run to and hide and view the real world with all your Fairy Tale brightful cheeriness. Thank you Susan for always giving me hope that no matter how bad it is, it can and will get better some day.

    • sbranch says:

      Oh my goodness Sharon! Too much! But you sound like you’re coming out of it. If I’m not presuming, I would love to give you a bit of advice I learned the hard way . . . Like you are learning things now . . . Do everything in your power to stop thinking about the past, do everything in your power to plan things for the future, and concentrate your life there. That’s how to get over it all faster. It’s hard I know, and scary too, because the future is an empty spot and only the past is real. But put things on the calendar. Take a class. Volunteer somewhere to meet friends who have NO idea about your past and are as uninterested as possible. Save money for a walking tour through the English Countryside. Make your life the way you want it to be. Wishing you every good thing! xoxo

      • Sharon in my little hometown says:

        Thank you Susan and no, you are not presuming. It is completely true when I said I would not have survived his awful treatment if it had not been for your blog and books and in particular, Martha’s Vineyard Isle of Dreams. I have read each of the trilogy books four times. I love learning and continuously take classes in Museology and Genealogy. Last fall while mediation was in a lull I took the Master Gardener course. Thank you for all your advice. My friend on the coast, Pam Kerschner, and her sisters got to meet you and Joe in Charleston. I was supposed to be there, but because of all this stuff, I didn’t get to make it. I will take more classes and make life the way I want it to be and hope to meet someone real and who loves all the things I do just like you did. I treasure your response to me in a long ago post that went something like this, “Something good did come of it for if I had not met Cliff Branch and experienced that life with him, I never would have moved 3000 miles to Martha’s Vineyard and met the true love of my life.”

        • sbranch says:

          It’s true, our worst moments can somehow turn to gold when enough time has passed. That learning thing we both love. One day at a time. You are on your way! xoxo

    • nancy says:

      Sharon, I have been in your exact situation. Married 32 years and 1 day. I too found so much inspiration through Susan’s books, I still do. I cannot count the number of times I’ve read them. I just go from book to book so that I’m constantly reading. So full of wise words that let me know I would survive. I did survive and am happier (with much less) than I ever would have imagined. You will also survive and end up in a much better place, not to mention stronger. I feel my life has so much more purpose and enjoyment. And I can like whatever I want, spend my time however I want and be with people who appreciate and enjoy me. Best to you!

  29. Yvonne sullivan Sullivan says:

    Thank you Susan everything you said is so true.So glad you have lost weight .In on different meds now I had a heart attack may 2018 My husband has been going through cancer treatment I lost my first husband to cancer

  30. Maria says:

    Hi!! Susan Thank you so much for sharing. love reading your blog so much fun uplifting, positive energy it’s beutifull

    xoxoxox Maria

  31. Linda Miller says:


    So happy to hear how well your new lifestyle is going and its impact on your health and overall zest for life!


  32. Cat V says:

    Thank you, Susan. I really appreciate this post. I have been in desperate grief over the loss of a beloved child. And I have been thinking that I need “to get over it” but you have given me permission to be quiet and, perhaps, even do something as simple as go for a walk in the snow. Thank you.

  33. Yvonne sullivan Sullivan says:

    Thank you Susan everything you said is so true.So glad you have lost weight .In on different meds now I had a heart attack may 2018 My husband has been going through cancer treatment I lost my first husband to cancer my sister my daughter in law my daughter had cancer last year and my other daughter in law which all are doing fine thank God.I understand stress I took care of mother my father in law mother in law which all 3 were in hospital at the same time.I took care of my first husband for a year and half before he passed running back and forth to Clev clinic every day day I’m 66 I do need to loose weight for sure 10 20 lbs would be great.God is good Thanks for all the encouragement love to see your kitty Jack

    • sbranch says:

      SO much Yvonne! You are amazing for what you’ve managed and still on your feet. God is good. And so are you. All my best, take a little time for yourself, you deserve it. xoxo

  34. Samantha ( Nova Scotia) says:

    I found this so helpful! Why is it that woman feel guilty about self care? If we self care…we have more space to nurture. Congrats on your healthy journey and your weight loss!

    • sbranch says:

      Exactly right. The stronger we are inside, the stronger we can be outside! xoxo Thank you Samantha!

      • Samantha (Nova Scotia) says:

        Hi Susan,
        On a side note, I have been praying hard and writing down my ‘whys’. Journaling has been so helpful. I was looking through my scrapbooking collection and found vintage Susan Branch work out stickers that say, “You go girl!” I LOVE them. They made my morning and I had forgottten all about them. 4lbs lost in two weeks. Thank you for inspiring all the girlfriends. Come on Spring! 🙂 xo

  35. Jo'L says:

    Bravo and thanks.

  36. Congratulations Susan. Take a look at Dr. Mark Hyman and he’s really going after the large companies who produce “crap “ food from sodas ( sugar ) and processed foods with flour/sugar! I do Cancer fighting nutrition and it’s all about clean eating of healthy protein, either wild/grass fed and organic veggies and low glycemic ( blueberries, raspberries, strawberries) since cancer cells feed on sugar. You are doing awesome and the good “fats” omegas, coconut oil, seeds are your friend. We’ve been told the wrong information regarding low fat foods. Your body needs the good fats.
    Good for you, keep up the great work.

  37. Elrica Shrewsbury says:

    Perhaps the World Ends Here
    Joy Harjo, 1951

    The world begins at a kitchen table. No matter what, we must eat to live.

    The gifts of earth are brought and prepared, set on the table. So it has been since creation, and it will go on.

    We chase chickens or dogs away from it. Babies teethe at the corners. They scrape their knees under it.

    It is here that children are given instructions on what it means to be human. We make men at it, we make women.

    At this table we gossip, recall enemies and the ghosts of lovers.

    Our dreams drink coffee with us as they put their arms around our children. They laugh with us at our poor falling-down selves and as we put ourselves back together once again at the table.

    This table has been a house in the rain, an umbrella in the sun.

    Wars have begun and ended at this table. It is a place to hide in the shadow of terror. A place to celebrate the terrible victory.

    We have given birth on this table, and have prepared our parents for burial here.

    At this table we sing with joy, with sorrow. We pray of suffering and remorse. We give thanks.

    Perhaps the world will end at the kitchen table, while we are laughing and crying, eating of the last sweet bite.

    Dear Susan,
    A friend sent me this poem today (from the year I was born) and I immediately recalled comments you made not too long ago about using your table for everything. We may not know each other and have never met, but I feel you are such a kindred spirit. I begin my day by checking your Twitter and you often post my thoughts, sometimes before I even think them. Just being politically aware these days is more stress than anyone needs. Good luck with the eating plan…hope it lasts longer than mine usually do, especially in this “comfort food” weather. I live in Southwest Virginia and sunshine has been a rare commodity, even on the occasional days that it doesn’t rain, for months now. The Betty MacDonald quote at the top of your March desk calendar page could not be more appropriate.

  38. Geneviève says:

    Dear Susan,
    this is exactly what I needed to hear this morning. We are Canadian diplomats living in Paris and in August, it will be the end of our posting here. We’re going back home. I’ve been feeling a lot of stress lately. We’re leaving Paris with mixed emotions, regrets that we haven’t done enough while in Europe, extreme joy to be reunited with our two eldest daughters in Canada etc. Preparing for that move while both of us are extremely busy at work (I have my own translation business), youngest daughter in Grade 12 with us in Paris, university applications, etc. And so many friends wanting to take advantage of our last months here in Paris to come and stay at our place. We are blessed, I know that. A strong marriage (25 years in June), three lovely daughters that we’re really proud of, both have fulfilling jobs, lots of friends, etc….but lately, feeling like Gumby, being stretched from all sides 🙂 Thank you for reminding me to take a deep breath and relax. Your posts are always a breath of fresh air. !!! Hope you have a wonderful day! Geneviève

    • sbranch says:

      An exciting time! The word you need most right now is NO. But I can imagine how hard that would be. When I was younger I thought life would be about choosing which thing to do would be better than the other thing …. but when they’re all good, you’re in trouble!! Welcome home. xoxoxo

      • Geneviève says:

        Thank you so much for taking the time to answer. Reading your lovely blog is always a stress reliever! It’s definitely a happy place! All the best xoxo

  39. Jacqueline Davey says:

    It looks to me like you need to write a new book ( stress free of course) with recipes and uplifting quotes to help us de-stress, get healthy and loose the weight……PLEASE.x

  40. Becky Lane says:

    The Human Comedy with Mickey Rooney… just discovered that movie on TCM … people are just so nice!

    • sbranch says:

      I just leave TCM on most of the time (unless they’re on a bombing, killing-kick!) I have Rex Harrison this morning!

  41. Chris Wells. Knickerbocker, Tx says:

    Your posts are ALWAYS so timely! I have been struggling with stress for awhile. I thought the stress of working and then coming home to be a caregiver was too much. So I retired and became a full time caregiver to discover being more stressed!! But life really is about learning to dance in rain isn’t it. I am slowly, slowly finding myself reaching deep to be grateful and find joy once more in my life. I send inspirational quotes each morning to a friend and discovered they are helping me as well. Now that I am emerging from my cocoon into the bright light of life, I need to change my diet. It really has been deplorable since I stopped working! I have a lovely Golden Retriever who loves to go on walks, so no excuse there and I need to get back to my yoga. I have this great app on my iPad that is just so handy so why am I not doing it? And then along comes Susan Branch!! I read your post yesterday and many of the comments and thought about it most of the day. This morning I woke up feeling better than I have in a long time.
    So once again, thank you for all you do for us, the books, the calendars, all the wonderful dishes and for helping us find our way when we get bogged down or lost!❤️

  42. Naomi A Jones says:

    Dear Susan,

    Doesn’t life just feel so much better when you let the beauty soak in??? I admit, finding you has added major beauty to my life. You are a stress reliever! You remind me to focus on what is important and let the earth’s beauty seep in where it makes a difference.

    I am still focusing on my “wellness journey.” That is so buzzword right now, but I like it. Maybe mine is more of a “health meander.”

    I know you are a reader and I don’t know if you have time for reading. Sometimes reading itself, though my joy, is a burden. Recently, I set aside fiction, felt for years like the Lord was calling me to do that, and what happened was I woke up to nonfiction and realizing that fiction was numbing me as an escape from reality. In an unhealthy way!

    One of the joys that has come out of that is the discovery that I have “lost myself” to try to adapt to my family’s needs and conform to what I *thought* my husband wanted. Turns out, he misses his cute, little, spontaneous, creative mystery woman. By setting down my fiction fictional life, I am re-learning who Naomi is.

    And guess what? True Naomi had a lot of stress relief built in because she was good at it and LOVED it. Playing piano, singing, drawing, writing, painting. Absorbing beauty. It hasn’t been present in my life for the past 12 years, since I got married and started trying to clone my husband because I thought it would please him. Yoikies!

    Anyway, this comment is a meander in itself.

    I was really trying to share with you a super interesting book I read recently. It is called The Obesity Code by Dr. Jason Fung. If you aren’t interested in reading the book, he also has all the information in 7 hours of lectures on his YouTube channel. It blew my mind. He talks about sugar a lot. AND how you cannot lose weight, even if you eliminate sugar, if you are stressed. Really fascinating information. A lot of what he talks about is truly common sense or what he describes as, “If we had listened to grandma.”

    Just wanted to share the wealth!

    Thanks for the difference you make in our lives. Hugs and kisses!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, I so agree, you can try and try and do everything right, but if you are overly stressed, nothing much is going to change. Kind of magical to learn there’s a key to success! And yes, married or not, we must be true to ourselves. If we don’t know what that means (which at one time I did NOT!), then we need to find out. Because without that, anxiety rules. Blessings on you and your wonderful journey to wellness!

  43. Naomi A Jones says:

    One more thing!

    I was recently at a marriage conference and the speakers, Bill and Pam Farrel, discussed how each decade has it’s own characteristics. 20’s is idealism, 30’s is industrious – hard work and responsibilities, 40’s is intense because a lot of people ask or need a lot from you, 50’s and 60’s are time to be influential, and 70s and above is indelible – time to tell the family story and share wisdom and memories.

    I feel like, through reading your books, I understand that you have wholeheartedly embraced and loved every stage, for what it was. You truly have joie de vivre. And you appreciate and enjoy everyone who is all of those stages too. That is part of what makes you wonderful.

  44. It was as if you were reading my mind. It’s been a stressful few years for me ~ lost both my parents and a best friend who passed so suddenly, I think I was in shock for quite a while. The people in your life who are irreplaceable, who have given you so much love~ it takes a while to realize that although they may be gone, their memories and kindness live every day in your heart.

    And I kept busy, busy, busy. Not wanting to stop because then I would have to think. And with that, came the added few pounds that I too, have been difficulty losing. It’s now that I read your blog and realize it’s so true~ stress is the culprit.

    So taking a tip from you, Sweet Sue, and going to follow your example!

    (Oh, and so happy to here those vases may be on the way. Called your customer service the other day and added the cupcake pillow~ they were so lovely to help and I know it will be worth the wait!)

  45. Karen says:

    Such good advice, Susan! Reading your blog (and books) have always been stress relievers for me. 🤗😍

  46. Robin says:

    It was wondeful to read of your exploration into and journey toward a healthier lifestyle. I too am on that journey. The “information highway”, otherwise known as the internet, can be a very slippery slope. So much information out there both good and bad, its hard to know which road to follow, even some “doctors” can lead you astray! ( note I am putting “doctors” in quotations because some of them are NOT medical doctors). I followed your links to look at all the information you have done and was happy that I did! I spent 40 years in working in healthcare, an extremely stressful career. That and the rollercoaster of life caused my body and mind to suffer and I am now disabled.But there is a good side to even bad episodes in ones life. The upside is now I have time to put myself back on track for a healthy lifestyle, better diet and more exercise! LOVE you “hugs”

  47. Debra sewell says:

    Its carbs!!allll carbs Convert to SUGAR in your body. What we do Not burn turns to FAT.which we store. So no bread, beans NO flours, sugar. No starchy veggies, no potatoes, no cookies No rice pasta. Alll big sugar. And sugar makes you Crave more of all of those things. We have No metabolism now. There is no way to exercuse it off. Wont work. Only upping protein, no more than 25 carbs a DAY. Lots of sleep, sweets, treats, breads, home fries etc. Its our bodies have changed how we burn carbs no. Dont do Keto!! Way way to high fat. I have 20 that refuses to leave. Its maddening. I eat very healthy but i struggle with those 20 lbs. I am 5’2″, so the 20 looks and mostly feels like more. I will win. I need to up my activity. So im gojng to get ok ne of those portable bike wheel lifts on amazon that you czn use a reg bike indoors and place back wheel it in and presto. Exercise bike. I thought i walked enough but dont. On city bus to long. So let us know how your journey goes. I know those 20 affect how my legs feel. I always eagerly await Willard to be so rewarded. Thank you a million times. Hey..i see a new cery healthy cookbook in your sweets.great new england healthy recipies. Oh yeah

  48. Florence Payne says:

    I love you Susan Branch.

  49. Karen Lotito says:

    Hi Susan! Your blog couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time! I too am on a wellness journey. Unfortunately, I’ve been experiencing a tremendous amount of stress of late and focusing on wellness and hygge has been helping me a lot. There is so much to be said about eating healthy. Lately, everything has been all about keto, which is extremely unhealthy. The weight loss is rapid – I have a friend lost 40 llbs. in 2 1/2 months! – however, the body is sent into ketosis which can be dangerous. And so I’m focusing on eating lean protein, fruit, veggies – LOTS and LOTS! – raw nuts, seeds, and only whole grains. We are fans of Ezekiel bread. Thank you for being there today and have a luv-lee sunny day and best to Joe and Jack, too! Love, Karen 🙂

    • sbranch says:

      You have it right. If we want this to last, stop the yo yo, we sort of have to learn something new, and “dieting” as we’ve learned to do, seriously has not worked. Simplicity, and self-care, I think, will!

  50. Cindy B. says:

    Thank you for the inspiration to trim down and live up! That, combined with a magazine my husband put in my Christmas stocking – Skinny Cooking – helped me BEGIN. (P.S. Husband mentioned over and over that the magazine title was not sending me any hidden messages, he just thought the recipes were ones I would like…..sweet man.) I cannot believe that the journey I’ve started so many times and stopped is still going! I’m down 10 pounds and absolutely loving the food that I am eating. I must admit that I did have another reason to want to embark on this adventure…..when you get to the point that you cannot rein in the mouth, it’s time to find a way for the tail to stop wagging the dog. Take back your ability to say, “No, thank you. Not right now. No seconds for me, I’m good.” I’m in charge of me, not my stomach. It feels great, healthy, balanced. Thanks for being our cheerleader!

  51. Margaret in AG says:

    Good Morning! You are right on track! There is a piece on the Today Show this morning on exactly what you are talking about,and saying exactly what you are.. the piece is done by Maria Shriver. Now I just have to follow the plan!

  52. Susan P. says:


    I had to go back and read your post at least three times, to make sure I read it right. You said “There were huge losses, like my dad, my brother etc etc” I knew about your dad…but not about your brother. (I might of missed a blog)
    I read all the comments and did not see anyone comment on the loss of your brother. I don’t want to be to personal, but I can only send this thru the blog.
    I send to you many hugs and prayers. Take care of yourself, (which it sounds like you are doing) for you are loved by many and especially God. Also, thanks again for a wonderful blog. Love, Susan P.

    • sbranch says:

      My darling brother, only 13 months younger than me, unexpectedly passed just a few months before my dad, it was too hard to talk about. I had to live with it for a good long while. I’m more or less okay about it now, it is one of the unacceptables in life we have to accept! You are sweet to write Susan. All is well. God is good. I feel blessed in every possible way.

      • Peggy Lison says:

        Dear Sue, Like Susan P. said above -I read and re read about your brother and then couldn’t remember that you had mentioned it before. I am so sorry for all of your losses and now for the loss of your brother too. And even when we make peace with it -it is still there. I lost all three of my sisters, husband and nephew in five years. I just had to face forward and find new endeavors and friends but the loss is huge. I have a good life now and am grateful for my little home and new friends but my heart is different. Again -so sorry for your loss. We have to do the best we can. I work with Linus project to give me a happy focus. much love from Peggy in Madison

        • sbranch says:

          Those things don’t go away, and shouldn’t really. But there’s a change. You lost so much in such a short time. I really don’t know how we do what we do. Sending love. xoxoxo

  53. Becky Ross says:

    Good Day to you dear. My little white Westie, Cadillac Mac, gives me relief from anxiety. Just petting him, as he cuddles with me on the couch, reduces my stress level. I also enjoy meditating. Your blog this month is a winner for all of us humans… It has been a long winter here in KC with lots of snow and hooking my primitive rugs is also a great way to pass the time away. The daffodils have popped out of the snow, Susan. I bought two beautiful trellis’s yesterday for my favorite flowers; the clematis that will soon come back to life. Much to look forward to just around the corner. My English Manor house full of Beatrix Potter awaits a visit from you. We are cut out of the same cloth… Blessings from Becky

    • sbranch says:

      You remind me, how I love my clematis! Won’t be long now!!! Thank you kindred spirit Becky! Hug Cadillac Mac for me please! What a cute name!

  54. Barb Murphy says:

    Thank you, thank you for the blog! So nice to go into a site that is pure, unadulterated fun and good info. Here’s to good health and stress relief.

  55. pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

    good morning Susan, Girlfriends just popping in to wish you all Happy Mardi Gras. today is Mardi Gras, Shrove Tuesday.. Fat Tuesday. eat drink and be merry today for tomorrow (Ash Wednesday) we fast and pray. as they say in New Orleans.. Let the good times roll. Hugs….. 😀

  56. Sandra Russell says:

    Good Morning Susan,
    From rainy Northen California. I try to find the little things in life each day to make me happy. There are hundreds if you look for them.
    Have loved your Willard since the beginning. Today’s post on stress is perfect…Thank you!
    Hugs always

  57. Amy Turner says:

    Good day Susan,
    Thank you for being so transparent today. Isn’t is funny how we can look to one woman and think she has found true balance and then we see her struggling with the same issues that we have. Thank you for your honesty. I too struggled with high levels of stress and even believed I worked and was more productive when placed in stressful situations. I have learned how unhealthy that mindset was for me. Now I am seeing my husband dealing with high levels of stress from his work environment and the damage it is causing him in his health, well being, and overall mental health. Lots of prayer for him!
    As you have often encouraged all us girlfriends, I am learning to see with new eyes and a new heart, the daily beauty around us. I am reading Ann Voskamp’s 1000 Gifts and I am following her lead to see and give thanks for 1000 Gifts that are a part of our everyday lives. Whether that be a powder sugar snow fall on March 5th, waking up with sore muscles that are a result from caring for another person who is in the last chapter of their life, planning a second daughter’s wedding, or praying for a neighbor who lost her father a few days ago. All are gifts of today. Some are “ugly beautiful” – Ann’s words, but all gifts if we choose to see. You too Susan are sharing the same message to all of us girlfriends. Encouraging us to be present in our lives. Thank you for letting us lift you up today. Let go of the stresses (past & present) and let God carry your grief & burdens for we were never meant to carry these alone. Blessings.

    • sbranch says:

      We’re all alike. Just people. Doing our best to cope in a crazy beautiful constantly-changing world! I think I was eight when I read the book Pollyanna. I loved it so much, because its simple but life-changing message was, “You can find something about everything, no matter what it is, to be glad about.” The Glad Game. SO empowering for an eight-year-old, to know we could CHOOSE how to look at things. It’s worked for me all my life! My prayers to your husband Amy. And thanks to you! xoxoxo

  58. Lin says:

    Hi Susan,
    Thank you for your ever-welcomed post!! In a world with such turmoil and chaos, your posts always help remind us of the simple things in our lives that deserve wallowing in:) It’s so easy to become “led astray” and your posts always seem to “reel us back in”. Simplicity is sooooo much more than a word! Making time for ourselves is such a priority, but difficult to incorporate into our daily lives unless we make a conscious effort. Thank you again for always sharing and sending such lovely messages to remind us of what’s truly important in live! You are a very special gal!!

  59. Jeannie Ramirez says:

    Hi Susan, just wanted to mention I’m getting double e-mails from you. I think because of your reminders last month about signing up for your Willard post. I don’t know what I was thinking. But if you would remove just one , (not both please) it would be appreciated .Sorry for the inconvience.

    • sbranch says:

      I sent your request to Sheri and hopefully she can fix it … but we’ve been told that you are the only person who can fix your record. We’re going to try anyway! Hope it works!

  60. Margaret says:

    What a wonderful post; thank you, Susan! If I could also put in a word for veganism. After many failed attempts in the past to make a complete switch over, I finally hit my one year mark as a vegan, am now at my perfect weight, and have never felt better (I’m sure it helps that I also cut my sugar intake back). I was worried about what I could cook and how it would taste, but a zillion vegan websites have put that concern long behind me. Veganism takes a lot of research, including finding the right supplements, especially Vitamin B12, for your own body, not O. on over-processed vegan meat and dairy substitutes, but eating foods closest to their natural state, but I feel it’s really cut stress associated with diet and uplifted my life in more ways than just food. It’s a personal choice completely, but just thought I’d offer my own experience.

  61. Sarah says:

    So, wise and wonderful girlfriends, what do you do when the sole source of stress and negativity in your life takes the form of a person you aren’t “allowed” to remove from your life–a toxic parent?

    My dad passed away suddenly this summer. He was always the buffer between my mom and me. I always knew it then, but I REALLLLLY know it now. She is negative, depressing, critical and judgmental. Everyone processes a loss in their own way, but I don’t think we should drag others into our process, especially if they are trying to process the loss of the same person.

    I dread having to talk to her. Every conversation (not really a conversation because it’s always just her talking) is full of negativity. I’ve told her those types of conversations set me back in my own attempt to deal with my dad’s death. She doesn’t care. It continues. She says this is “all about her.”

    She has fully embraced victimhood, bitterness, helplessness and will not entertain any offers to help her address situations that are causing her stress. I suspect it is because then she won’t have anything to gripe about.

    My husband’s dad also passed away this summer, a few weeks before mine. My daughter lost two grandpas this summer. I have other people in my house and it isn’t fair to them for me to be affected by my mom all the time. I’ve tried to tell her this. Again, she doesn’t care. This is about her. Her literal words.

    I can’t control her behavior. I can only control my exposure to it, which is what I have always tried to do. I have definitely limited my daughter’s exposure to it. So what do I do to eliminate the source of stress in my life when it’s my OWN MOTHER? Any suggestions you sweet women can give me is greatly appreciated.

    • sbranch says:

      Personally, I would tell her. I would say, I’m not coming over here anymore. Many years ago, my dad and I went through something like this. He forgot that I had grown up, and had “rules” for my behavior that were overwhelming me. It had gone on for years, and finally, when he was mad at me (for no reason, based totally on his own control issues) , I just let it be ~ I didn’t call and he didn’t call and we didn’t speak for three years! I was just done. Then one day I called him out of the blue and he was so happy and acted like nothing had ever happened and so did I. BUT, there was a huge change, he had respect for me from that day on. He saw me as separate. I didn’t owe him and he didn’t owe me. We grew up TOGETHER. It was wonderful. I think you need time away from your mom. As you walk out the door, you might mention that everything isn’t about her. You can remove her for a while. In a true and honest way. Write her a letter so she can’t interrupt and kindly tell her how her negativity is affecting you and what you are going to do about it if there are not immediate changes. That’s what I would do, but you have to do what feels right for you. Look at all you have on your plate! You need to feed yourself from the well of sweetness. Blessings to you sweetheart. Very tough situation. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

      • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

        I would like to add to that advice if I may. its very good advice and about all I can add to it is just walk away. put your hands up and walk away from it. you don’t need her negativity affecting you or your family and you have done right by limiting your daughter’s exposure to it. definitely I would tell her the reasons why and what will be happening if it continues to go on. in many ways she sounds like she acts like my MIL. now that woman is a bully just like her hubby and if she does not get the attention she wants or thinks she deserves she will bully you until she gets it. I have learned over the years to just put my hands up and walk away from it. my visits with her are extremely limited as I refuse to deal with her stress anymore. same goes for my FIL, I just walk away. good luck with your mother and sending you lots of positive thoughts, love and hugs. hugs….. 😀

      • Sarah says:

        Thank you so much, Susan. I do need to stand up to her. She’s an emotional bully and terrorized my dad their whole life together. I think she’s looking for a replacement “punching bag” now that he’s gone and no one seems to want to step up and it’s making her angry. Parenting a parent always felt a little disrespectful to me but you are right, we are all adults now. Thank you for taking the time to respond. I am grateful! 🙂

        • sbranch says:

          You’ll be great. Old dogs CAN learn new tricks. Your natural kindness will see you through, but you have a life too. Just say no mom, no more. I think you are in for a great feeling of lightness of heart when you do! xoxo

          • FayE in CA! says:

            There is a feeling of “taking care of your own health” when you let go of someone’s negativity force, but I never felt “lightness” about it. My mother was a textbook narcissist…her world was about how she was treated, not about how she treated me.

            As a mother with two young children I found myself swinging on a school swing in the middle of the night…crying my eyes out. While walking back home I realized that I was alone in the dark (in more ways than one!) and it was stupid of me to put myself in danger!

            My mom never participated with our children, came to our home only three times, didn’t know how or care to get to know me as an adult, mother, wife.

            Phone calls always came from me. Gifts came from me. Trying came from me. Finally, after MANY years I just gave up. I didn’t try anymore. Of course, that only made me the black sheep of the family. My sisters believed everything Mom told them…they never asked how I felt or what had happened.

            When my father got ill, I called him many times and we chatted. I did chat with my mother, but even Daddy’s critical illness was about her.

            I did find peace in being the kind person that they raised me to be, but both parents never knew me as the adult I became. When I would be out and about and see a mother and adult daughter shopping together I would think, sadly…oh, how lovely…I wonder what that is like.

            A little over a year before my mom died she called me and said it was the best decision she’d made in a long time…to call me. The little girl in me didn’t want to be mean and hang up on her. We talked weekly/biweekly for over a year after her call. I never opened up about my personal life…she had taught me through her actions to be very guarded about my personal life…I talked about cats, gardens, weather…kept it generic, but was a kind daughter with an elderly mom. She said that she enjoyed my humor.

            Well, final chapter? When I got the call that she had but a few hours to live, I wished her well on her journey to Daddy…she couldn’t speak well at that point…and out of my mouth came the words, I love you, Mom. I CRINGED and shuddered…LITERALLY…somewhere in the deepest part of me the little girl in me said those words, because the big girl did not love her…I felt like a hypocrite which I have always prided myself in NOT being. I was lightening-bolt stunned!

            Well, the FINAL-FINAL chapter was when I received paperwork from their lawyer informing me that I had been disinherited many years before and therefore cut out of their will. I was not surprised because they were spiteful people with no insight into their own behaviors, but I was really angry that they hadn’t had the guts to tell me that they had made that decision and made it legal. It would have relieved me of my desire to have my parents participate in my life…YEARS of that desire and sadness. We would have been on the same playing field and I would have been able to move on free of guilt and deep sadness. They finally “spoke” their true feelings…from the grave…one final blow…

            My parents knew what they had done and still took my calls when they were having health issues at the end. My mother could have changed the will after my father died, but OH, yeah…that’s right…she DID NOT have a mother’s heart!!

            My three sisters stayed in the narcissist’s web. They honored our parents’ desire to cut me out of the will.

            I actually thought that my sisters would reverse the decree, but sadly they chose otherwise. My parents divided us instead of bringing us together. My sisters honored the dishonorable parental decree. They never saw beyond or through our parents words.

            So, to Girlfriends who shop, lunch and play with their mothers…be thankful for the normal growth/joy of mother/daughter relationships. I am SO happy for you all because there is a pocket in all of us that wants to be filled with love and respect from our parents, but it is not a given that our pocket will be full for many of us.

            Lightness of heart? No, but it was a relief and healthier for me when I finally did “let it go” and I have to say a major relief when they passed because I knew that I could finally stop having that “someday they will come around” tucked deep inside of me.

            Yes, daughters are taught to be nice and that embedded teaching has put guilt on our backs and no knowledge of how to confront a parent knowing that we will be labeled “bad girl” and suffer the consequences.

            Sarah, I feel for you and wish you peace after you approach this difficulty. When you have had enough, you will reach that breaking point and cut it off. You will be making the decision for your own health. Susan said that “old dogs CAN learn new tricks”…I hope that your mother can, but don’t be surprised if she doesn’t. Move on and soon the tears will dry up and you will feel like you did make the healthy decision for yourself. Days, months and years will heal you, but the relationship will always be a part of your journey.

            Susan, I was SO surprised to hear that you and your father didn’t speak for three years. How fortunate for you that he loved you enough to let his love finally conquer pride and control…true love that brought you such great joy and security!

            We are all on a journey through life…and even when we think our role models (Susan) lead lives of perfection, we find that once again, we share commonalities in living. This post has brought out some truths and hardships in our lives. It has made us even more real as Girlfriends. Our conversations can be gut-wrenching in depth and yet we find cyber arms reaching out to hold us and understand the “real” reality of living as human beings.

            Thank you, Susan. xoxoxo ❤️❤️❤️


            PS: Kisses and pets to sweet Jack!

          • sbranch says:

            I’m so happy you shared your story, FayE. You are definitely not alone. We get what we get and do what we have to do to survive, and hopefully, not let it do us in . . . get through it with a vision of a clean and loving life we can make our own. Easy to say, very difficult to do. I never stopped loving my dad, and I never could. I think children love their parents no matter what happens. I understand why you responded the way you did when your mom was dying. You loved the mom you wished she was, and that mom was dying along with the reality mom. The hope she would change was going too. I will NEVER understand cutting someone out of a will. The cruelest thing ever. One reason we need to go out and get a handful of kitties and doggies. All that love needs somewhere wonderful to go. Blessings on you for what you’ve accomplished in your life. xoxoxoxo

        • Lin says:

          Thank you Sarah, Susan and Pat for sharing! My gosh, I had to look twice to see if I had written that blog! I’m in nearly the same place with my toxic-mother and I find myself often talking to my Dear Dad, who we lost 5 years ago! I have a new-found appreciation and love for him, knowing what he went through for 63 years! Bless him! And bless you all for helping me see I’m not a horrible person for feeling so angry and for detaching from my mother’s negativism. I can continue to refuse to allow it to control me, and you all have given me a new glow of light knowing my feelings are real and okay! Blessings!

          • sbranch says:

            Good girl, life is hard enough. We don’t get to choose our relatives . . .🤣 You deserve love.

          • pat addison (cave junction, OR) says:

            glad to be of help. to Sarah, remember we are all pulling for you and just know that you do need to deal with her negativity and toxicity. simply walk away and let her know the reason why. to FayE all I can say is wow!! to have to deal with that toxicity and come through like you did, a major miracle. its really sad that parents chose to cut their children out of their wills and lives because they don’t think they measure up to what they think that child should be, Susan is right that is the cruelest thing ever. Lin don’t ever feel you are a horrible person for dealing with a toxic parent, certainly you did not create the problem.. your mother did and that is her headache not yours. blessings on you all for coming through so strongly. don’t judge yourself by their standards, judge yourself by your own and see the incredibly strong, sensitive and caring women you all have become. sending lots of hugs and love to you all. and remember this piece of advice my grandma gave me once. never judge yourself by someone else’s opinion or perception of what they think you should be. the only person who can judge you is you yourself and the only person you have to please is yourself. be happy, and be you!!! 😀

    • Meg Cooper says:

      A helpful book for your situation is, Boundaries, by Henry Cloud. It may give you good ideas for dealing with your mother without having to walk away from her. We only have so many years with our mothers and I hope that your relationship can be restored so that you can enjoy those years together. As my cousin just realized upon her mother’s death, “The person who has loved me my whole life, is gone.”

  62. Linda Kostecki says:

    Thanks for this! What perfect timing. We go around living in our little bubble, nurturing and caring for all the generations we have in our lives. It never occurs to us to think anything other than we are doing good with the best of ourselves we can. And then one day a cold turns into bronchitis that takes over a month to get over and scans show things still shady in there and suddenly the caretaker is having an Echo of her own heart on Friday! Whats wrong with this picture!? I do the hand holding and caring for….how can this be? Have I ever thought about what I eat? How could I get something/do something for me when others are in need around me? Its light you turned on a lamp in my head! Noone has been getting the best version of me in awhile! Thank you again Susan. Depending on Fridays results, this girl is going to make some changes!! Cant wait for the little vases!!

    • sbranch says:

      Good girl Linda. We’re no good to anybody unless we’re good to ourselves. And there are side effects, you’ll feel wonderful in more ways than one. Best to you on Friday!!! 😘

  63. Cathy Britvich says:

    I knew this was going to be a great post at the very beginning with “Just in cases” from Love Actually, one of the all time best movies ever made. I always love to read your uplifting blog, while you share your Vineyard, England, New England, and California journeys with us. This post was my very favorite of all time. I’m going to share it with all my girlfriends, fat and thin. You have a good heart Susan Branch. Thank you so much for sharing it with us.

  64. Darla says:

    Where did you get so many cute Flower vases? Thanks for the blog.

  65. Brandi Talmadge says:

    The way you deliver your words of wisdom is encouraging & sweet with cause to stop and reflect on what you’re sharing. Thank you for helping change the world with your wisdom and beautiful artwork.

  66. Christine says:

    A truly wonderful book just came out: Stress Less, Accomplish More by Emily Fletcher. She’s been talking on a bunch of podcasts and after listening to her I bought the book. I can promise that you would LOVE it. All about the millions of ways that stress can mess things up, along with a meditation practice that fixes it. A guidebook and an interesting read on neuroscience. Also, check out the books by Dr. Mark Hyman – he’s the “father of functional medicine”. I think you would appreciate the food as medicine that he talks about. You’re right that there are always new things to learn about!

  67. Starr Miller says:

    Hello Susan
    Love your blogs! Great advice and so happy you have lost weight and are learning to say no.
    I just returned from a lovely cruise but oh my there are way too many very overweight people. It’s shocking. They truly are addicted to food and sitting.
    As we age those pounds start to add up if we don’t make eating a choice and a decision. We just can’t eat as much. Darn. I know some who eat heartily one day and cut way back the next. I guess everyone must find what tricks work for them.
    For me I need variety- I can’t eat veggies all the time. I do need that sugar reward but a small treat not a whole carton of ice cream etc. For some it’s honey in their tea or a hot chocolate.
    I do believe it’s your calorie intake- whether you are eating white rice or whole wheat pasta or a bowl of beans.
    Thin people don’t eat much!!
    I stopped eating meat, beans and whole wheat products -for me this works. My stomach is very happy.
    Love almond milk but still enjoy cheeses- goat cheese yum!
    Thank you for inspiring us again- it has been a cold winter and soon we can get back to long walks, swimming and bicycling.
    Bless you and all you love 🤗

  68. Cathy Carpenter says:

    Oh Susan, you and I love so many of the same things – books, movies, music, home crafts of every kind, nature, bubble baths, tea, pretty dishes, I could go on and on. You really feel like a “girlfriend” to me. So nice to hear from kindred spirits! I don’t know any in real life. Thanks for the reminders about nutrition and self-care. If only I could make a living “puttering around the house” – it is my true love, but society frowns on it, haha. You are so fortunate to love what you are doing!

    • sbranch says:

      Yes, puttering around would be the PERFECT job!!! Most creative wonderful thing. Do more of that!!! xoxoxoxo

  69. julia walker says:

    Well done Susan! I can’t wait to forward this to my sisters and friends. You are such an inspiration and appreciated more than words can say. Your friend, Julia

  70. Thea says:

    I’m fat right now and I didn’t think I was stressed. But yeah, I am. I’m facing change. I’m feeling anxious. Mostly, I think everything will be ok but who knows what might unexpectedly pop up. Sigh.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s easier and a lot smaller to deal with than you think. It’s deep breaths and a little sunlight and some clean eating. Anxiety is difficult. Can you do anything about this change? Because if you can’t, put the worry in a room in your brain and close the door, and just take it as it comes. Set your mind free for scrambling eggs and steaming spinach! xoxoxo

  71. Stephanie C says:

    Great info!! I have never been on social media ( other than my email) and love it! I rarely watch the news. And one of the great things about aging is that I don’t care what other people think!! It’s so freeing. I do however need to lose 35 pounds. I tend to comfort myself with food. I love the simple pleasures in life. My happy place is tent camping in the woods!!! So many great comments!


  72. Sherry Coleman says:

    All of it is soooo true! The wake up call sounded for me in December. My life has changed
    big time…for the better. Congrats on your weight loss! I have lost 11 that I simply couldn’t lose before. Diet is changed, I’m sleeping like a rock. I’m enjoying things I haven’t done in years…drawing, writing, doing some embroidery and simply spending some time alone listening to relaxing instrumental music. Driving myself to get everything done in speed mode…no one pushing me but myself! The stressful moments still come sometimes, but when they do they are short lived. Not one of us can live a healthy lifestyle without being intentional and mindful. Thank you for the encouragement. It always helps to talk to other women. Healing comes when we understand that none of us is in this alone. We’re really all very much alike.

  73. Judy Garland-Martinez says:

    I commented earlier…but….ever think about publishing a mini-book with all these helpful and inspirational ideas, life coach? 🙂 I am printing it out! Love all your blogs!
    Judy from Colorado

  74. Ericka says:

    I love that you added CBS Sunday Morning to your list of feel-goods. My husband and I smile every time we hear that opening horn, and at some point in the show we’re dabbing our eyes. 🙂

  75. Sharon Beck says:

    I can’t recall if you have ever mentioned this,but in case not, I just want to throw this out there since you recently wrote about the “extraordinary ordinary” that I recently discovered a magazine that is all about the magic of the ordinary in life. It’s called Bella Grace and even the quality of its paper is beautiful and feels like a book. Many of the articles read like treasured letters from dear friends and there are NO ads!! This magazine is about BEING and not about trying to look like a model or telling us what we need to buy. It’s about celebrating yourself, your amazing friends, and about the little things in life (that end up being the big things). Nope, I don’t work for them. I am just wanting to share with you something I think you may appreciate. Anyway, thanks for all you do for us in your newsletters. I even baked a Hot Milk Cake and almost needed a cigarette after tasting the first bite! Divine!

  76. Chris Wells. Knickerbocker, Tx says:

    I just found the cutest quote. It’s probably one Susan has used before but so applicable now.
    “You should sit in nature for 20 minutes a day…unless you are busy, then you should sit for an hour.” 😀

  77. Kathleen Conrad says:

    Such a great post Susan. And reading the comments it’s obvious that many of us needed to hear what you had to say. We appreciate you, your books and calendars & mugs & all the little things that make our lives better. ❤️❤️

  78. Ginette Wheeler says:

    Susan, I love this post! Up to the first week of December I was living a relatively poster example of what you so wisely prescribed for our well being and then the innocently imposed stress of Christmas, my mothers progressing dementia, the increased demands at work, visiting family the last few months escaping the cold and requiring all the free time we would normally have to regroup and calm things down, ugh! I stopped eating healthy, stopped taking time for any form of enjoyment, just plugging along doing all that needs to be done and promising myself that later I’d find time for me and as a result I’ve gained weight, I’ve lost energy, motivation, desire and I KNOW it’s because of my diet, I KNOW! Food is where every other aspect of our begin beings!
    Well, starting today (my day off from work) I’m claiming back my sensible nutritional meals and “me” time! When I’m healthy, my family is healthy so I’m doing this for us all! Thanks girl for making me think straight again! Love ya! XOXO

  79. Karen Bowerman says:

    Thank you for your lovely and informative blog! It’s good to remind ourselves once in a while how damaging stress can be. I suffered from a major depression years ago all due to stress. And I didn’t even realize it at the time that the stress was causing all the problems. Luckily my doctor saw what was happening and I received prompt treatment and today all is good. Now I make sure to put lots of time in my day for walking, reading, petting the kitty, tidying up, etc. And trying not to worry that Spring will never arrive as I look out the window this morning at more snow and a frigid 8º! Oh, how I want to open the windows and see the curtains blowing in the breeze! Off now for my walk to de-stress about that! Lol:) Have a lovely day!

    • sbranch says:

      I’ve read that stress causes depression and it makes perfect sense!!! That feeling of bearing too much! I’m so happy your Dr was paying attention. When you catch depression early enough, there’s often lots of success in getting rid of it! You sound wonderful Karen! Think how that first, barely spring, day will feel for us. Can’t wait!

  80. Mary Ann in Missouri says:

    Wow, what a perfectly timed post. I have been on the Keto “lifestyle” for about a year and a half. I’ve noticed I’m not feeling very healthy anymore and attribute a lot of it to all the fat. I’m nervous about going off of it, but reading your post makes me confident it’s the right thing to do. I do yoga twice a week, water aerobics twice a week and walk whenever the weather permits. So, with your little “push”, I am on to researching and starting a well balanced life. Thanks!

  81. Kathleen Lauman says:

    Oh Susan, The last two blog posts could not have arrived sooner. I have been feeling much the same as you ~ wondering “how did this happen”? This has been my year of feeling ‘old’ and fluffy (I will be 68 soon). I have read and reread your posts, getting out a spiral notebook & making notes. I made the steel cut oatmeal yesterday, gathering all the nuts & seeds I could find in the house before going to the market to purchase more. The first bowl of yummy healthy goodness told me, “all will be well”.

    You are always so inspiring. I hope all of your loyal fans, such as me, give some of that back to you. Look forward to more beautiful pictures of deliciousness ~ with recipes (of course). This topic of health & wellness in all areas of our life is what makes living so wonderful. Please continue to take care of yourself ~ and I plan to be on the same journey with you.

    It is snowing this morning here in Ridgefield, Washington. I can hardly wait for Spring … it has just been too cold for too long.

    Heart hugs, Kathleen

    • sbranch says:

      Your heart hugs are all I need! Makes my day! Thank you Kathleen! Here’s to goodbye to the fluffy! xoxoxo

  82. Annie in CA says:

    You’re at the top of my grateful list! My healthy eating has returned all because of you. Thank you so much for being such a bright light. Keep the good food photos coming.
    Love to you, Joe and Jack ❤️

  83. Amanda Davis says:

    How did you know this was EXACTLY what I need to hear today? You’re right: the stressors of life start stock-piling with sudden family deaths, job changes and moving. There is SO much uncertainty that it’s easy to get bogged down and lie awake at night engulfed by anxiety. It is sometimes easier to bask in the negative or ignore stress than to actually DO the healthy things we know will produce a happier outlook. What is it with humans and their tendency toward self-destruction? Thank you for these incredibly important reminders. I’ve always wanted to visit Helen Keller’s home and may just do that this weekend since it’s less than two hours from our house! Sending all my love from Alabama to Martha’s Vineyard.

    • sbranch says:

      LOL, “humans and our tendency toward self-destruction!” Ha ha! (I take it back, I guess that’s not so funny!) I think we think we’re doing what’s right, but oh how wrong we can be! Maybe in the days when all we did was forage in the woods for food, no noise but nature noise, crackling fire noise, sleep at dark, wake at light, it might have been easier. But who knows! There were still men, and somehow we seem to bring along a hunk of violence wherever we go. Joe and I visited Hellen Keller’s home and it’s quite a treat. You’ll love it. What a beautiful area!

      • Rachel says:

        Amanda, hello from Texas. I hope you will go visit Helen Keller’s birthplace and give yourself time to spend in the little museum and to walk the grounds. She was an amazing woman, who did not let her deafness or blindness deter her. My home is Tuscumbia, but I haven’t lived there in a long time. You might also want to walk downtown, passed the courthouse, and then to the park. I have read your blog….probably about a year ago, when you tried staying in a tiny house. And, now I have “found” you again. I didn’t find an email address on your site, so I hope you read this. Maybe there is a way that Susan can get it to you. I guess I wonder where you live in Alabama, and have you always lived there. Rachel Scott

        • Amanda Davis says:

          Thank you so much, Rachel! I can’t wait to visit Helen Keller’s birthplace and really appreciate the tips. Tuscumbia sounds like a beautiful town. Your comment makes my day, especially since I sometimes feel like my blog posts disappear into the unknown ether when I submit them! Susan is wonderful to connect like-minded girlfriends and I’ll send you an email soon where we can continue the conversation!

      • Amanda Davis says:

        “No noise but nature noise” sounds like a beautiful thing! I often long for a simpler time (especially after watching Andy Griffith or old movies) and maybe it’s idealistic, but things had to be SLIGHTLY better before the world became so commercialized. All we can do (and you do it so well) is try to create an ambience in our lives that gives us peace through cultivating healthy habits like exercise, spirituality, eating real food and companionship. Thank you for all the inspiration!

  84. My daughter-in-law just sent me your blog? I enjoyed it very much and find myself looking forward to more from you. I sometimes do the weight exercises you posted also some on a ball. At 87 I still need to keep in some semblance of a good figure and am trying to get rid of the sagging body. [

    • sbranch says:

      Nothing ever changes really does it Joyce!? We are still 8 years old inside. If you look in the side bar on right hand of my blog, you’ll see “old” blog posts from years gone by. Click on any of them, and “more” will be what you get! Nice to meet you!

  85. Deb W says:

    I’ll be honest. The main reason I ordered the corgi cup was because it has E II R on it. As her life draws to a close and we can’t possibly have her for too many more years, I wanted a momento of QEII’s reign – this woman who became Queen the year I was born. I’ve resisted all the commemoratives over the years, Jubilees, birthdays (I hope there will be a 100!) and Coronation anniversary – SO expensive – but this one spoke to me.

    Likewise for the photo calendar. I hope it will be popular, so it will be repeated. Your photos of such a beautiful place, combined with your charming illustrations, promises to be a real favorite for me.

    • sbranch says:

      I’m so happy you’re enjoying the English things. . . because, as you know, I LOVE doing them! xoxo

  86. nancy says:

    Susan, I couldn’t agree more with CBS Sunday Morning. Ive been watching it for as long as I can remember. It makes me think, makes me appreciate and most of all it makes me believe that there is good in the world. And my very own rule is to never, ever skip the “Moment of Nature.”

    • sbranch says:

      Though they don’t say it out loud, which I wish they would, what they do is show how our creative world affects the whole world for the better. Every person they highlight has created something special. That’s not something many news programs focus on! And that moment of nature at the end? Brilliant. God’s creation.

    • Barbie says:

      My vote is that every program that doesn’t follow the CBS Sunday Morning or PBS mindset be removed from television. Hundreds of channels and very few that are watchable. I watch PBS stations and very little else, prefer to read a good book or listen to music.

      • sbranch says:

        Hooray! Remember how it used to be, happy, funny, TV families all the time, Ozzie and Harriet, Little House on the Prairie, The Waltons, everyone trying their best to do good?!

  87. Barbie says:

    Ahhh, I already feel better after reading your post! Watching our chickens do their thing, scratching and clucking, is very relaxing at our home. Spring is just around the corner, and I’m jazzed to start gardening again! Thawed out bags of frozen mulberries from last year’s harvest and in the process of making Mulberry wine (at least I hope that is what happens). Thawed out many quarts of strawberries from last year’s harvest too, and made a dozen jars of Strawberry Sauce for topping ice cream, angel food cake, cheesecake, etc. Yummy! Yours Aye to your Home from Ours!

  88. Inez Schlueter says:

    I have also cut some of my sugar, and walk a couple times a week, in all weather. One of my favorites, at my dollar store, they sell yogurt, and frozen fruit, unsweetened. For a snack,I thaw the fruit and top with the yogurt, delish. Planning my garden for Spring,and planting one of my favorites, moonflower, I look forward to these every year. Happy Spring everyone.

  89. Ginny Evans says:

    I had to laugh about Jack LaLanne! Such fun memories. My mother faithfully worked out with him on TV in the mornings when I was a little girl. My brother and I followed along too-legs in the air, just like you did. Invariably, we’d all end up howling as we watched each other do the facial exercises at the end–looking very silly indeed–eyes wide open, then face all scrunched and lips pursed together! Like you say, it set me up for a lifetime of exercise. My mother is now 90 and still leads the “old lady exercise class” at her seniors neighborhood clubhouse. Jack would be proud.

    PS how do I add a photo to my profile? It would help you remember me.

    Love, Ginny

    • sbranch says:

      I really don’t know how to changed a profile photo … but I see you have outlook, so I asked Google and they said THIS! If this doesn’t work, keep googling till you find it. It’s easy once you do! HA HA on the Jack LaLanne, I forgot about the facial exercises, but can picture that blowfish face perfectly now that you mention it! Good for your mom!!! Inspiring!

  90. Sue Wemett says:

    Dear Susan,
    Thank you for such gentle, kind, wise words. Here, in the late days of winter, when cabin fever is setting in and it seems like spring will never arrive, we need the reminders, some of us more, some of us less. This household has police & fire scanners on 24/7. There have been a LOT of suicides lately locally. Your words are wise. They are appreciated. Everyone is someone’s loved one. Everyone has someone who will be sad or hurt or pained by the suicide of a loved one, whether the loved one can accept that or not. God bless you Susan. Peace out.

    • sbranch says:

      Very sad situation, Sue. I can’t even imagine the stress of that. Sending prayers. xoxoxo

  91. Jen Pen says:

    My newest treat to myself is a lavender salt scrub (mine is from Trader Joe’s).
    Silky soft skin perk!
    I may be heading to Martha’s Vineyard (for the first time!) this July for my birthday!!!!
    Wonderful post – as always. Hug yourself!

    • sbranch says:

      I tried a salt scrub once and slipped all over the bathtub! 🤣 How are you managing? I had one at a spa at one time and I hugged myself all night, I was so silky! Got your nice note. I’d love to come back to the Women’s Exchange . . . maybe for new book. What’d you decide about board? xoxoxo

  92. Cindy L says:

    My oncologist used to chant at me “stress causes cancer!” Like you wrote, it compromises our immune system and lets the fast-growing rogue cancer cells go crazy.

    • sbranch says:

      It does, waaaay worse that fat! It’s a silent sneaky devil. Don’t even know it’s there. We have to feed ourselves as if it is there, if we’re going to outsmart it!

  93. Barbara Weaver says:

    Raw carrots and hard boiled eggs in the fridge at all times for quick bites. Almonds, sunflower and pumpkin kernels in the pantry to stave off cravings. Now, if I could just avoid those Girl Scout cookies that I bought from our granddaughter!

  94. Cheryl Walsh says:

    You are my best stress reliever! Stay as sweet as you are!

  95. rhea says:

    Hi Susan,

    Well its SLOWLY starting to pay off, my healthy eating which you totally inspired me to get back on track. Unlike you, I haven’t lost as much weight as you but thats okay because all I’m focusing on is my longterm health. 3lbs. is a good start. I had my blood work done and sure enough inflammation was the topic of my results. I was a little cocky thinking I couldn’t be in that category at age 48 but I was wrong. I don’t eat a lot of sugar, gluten or dairy, but nightshades……..I live off of them!! Thats the culprit. Quit cold turkey and its hard! Sticking with it and I’m definitely noticing a difference. Yay. The tire has whittled down to a spare tire size-big smile. Thanks for passing on all of your research and keeping me motivated. Love you to pieces.

    • sbranch says:

      That’s the way to go. It’s really about giving your body a break from carrying too much extra weight and stress. Three pounds is great! You aren’t supposed to starve yourself! Keep going Rhea! Congratulations!

  96. Julie says:

    I hopped off the Facebook train last year after my account was hacked. The only social media I consume is Pinterest. I also cut down on the news. The ridiculousness of it, the lack of common sense overwhelms me. Now I just need to up my exercise game!

  97. Jaclyn F Krueger says:

    Don’t know if it has been mentioned (haven’t read through all the comments) but an additional practice is using essential oils. I have been using Young Living oils for almost a year and diffuse and rub on wrists, back of neck, temples; pain, wellness, rest, peace of mind…they are AMAZING! Some of their blends are truly helpful…I LOVE StressAway. If you get into oils, make sure it is a company that believes in purity, quality…Young Living and doTerra are the top two in my opinion. This is one of your BEST blogs E.V.E.R. !!! Thanks.

    • sbranch says:

      Thank you Jaclyn! I keep two on my desk and next to my bed. Lavender oil, and then just the last few drops in a bottle of Vanilla, and ever so often I take a big sniff of each and it really does work. I can feel the relaxation. xoxo

  98. Barbie says:

    Dear Susan,
    I find relationships are stressful too. I have let many “friendships” go by the way side over the past 15 years. My husband and I are “fixers”, you know the lawn mower breaks down, and if we can get the parts we fix it, etc. We have had neighbors, friends, and family take advantage of our kindness and ability over the years. We didn’t mind until it happened so often, and often with the return of an item broken or never. When we decided to say “no” things became very uncomfortable.
    The fact that we are financially stable through hard work and smart money practices, we had requests for funds to “tide” someone over which were never repaid (my Mom was right about never loaning money to friends or family). I stopped feeling bad about those dropped relationships and trying to be a people pleasurer, even the ones with family, and am all the better for it.
    The results of the past two year political climate has also added stress to every day living. I have had to distance myself from more friends due to their aggressive stances toward people of different religions, political party, and color.
    Again, relationships can be stressful, and I’m better for letting some of them wash away so that I can enjoy the view without pressure.

    • sbranch says:

      You did the right thing. Toxic comes in all forms. Deep breath, joy button pushed, moving on.

      • Barbie says:

        Thank you! There was some guilt, but guilt, the kind we impose on ourselves without reason, can also be stressful. As the Disney song says…..Let it GO!

        Have a beautiful Weekend! The crocuses are blooming here in Virginia.

        • sbranch says:

          It can, but if you’re feeding yourself from the well of sweetness, in the end, it will be good. xoxoxo Beautiful Virginia! I’m there right now, in my dreams, writing the new book, driving south through Virginia and (this time last year) the daffodils are in bloom!

  99. Christine (Miller) Noble says:

    Susan, I’m curious about your 1999 Girlfriends Forever Book. I didn’t see it in your on-line store. Any ideas how I can find a copy? What is the book’s content?

    It’s been 57 years since I’ve seen a particular girlfriend from my LaGrange, IL first grade class. I have no idea how to find her, but she will always hold a special place in my heart. She and her family were so good to me, when I really needed it. She will always be my “girlfriend forever”. She really made a difference in my life.

    Thank you to all girlfriends improving the lives of others. Thank you, Susan.

    • sbranch says:

      It’s no longer in print. Sometimes we find copies in used book stores or on line and when we do, we offer them in our webstore. Watch there, and then Google for it and see what you can find out there. It’s everything Girlfriends, it’s about why we get together, and about getting together, about why we cry, and how we pick our boyfriends ~ there’s decorating and health and traveling, stress relief, how to find best friends, creativity, and how to be happy, the story of me and my best friend meeting the Beatles when we were 17, all that and more. Maybe you could also Google your first-grade friend, lots can happen on line these days! xoxoxo

    • FayE in CA! says:

      Hi, Christine

      There are several Girlfriends Forever books on ebay and Amazon has one, too. You usually find Susan’s books on both of these sites…used ones are generally in GREAT, sometimes “like new” condition…read the descriptions and pick one. Enjoy!

  100. rhea says:

    Hi Susan,
    I keep leaving responses and they don’t show up on the blog. Has something changed? I don’t see it going into moderation either.

    • sbranch says:

      They’ve changed their format on WordPress and don’t seem to be announcing comments have gone to moderation. To find a comment, Click Command F, and see if you’re there. I do think they’re all going through, but this will be a good test!

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