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A big post-COVID re entry and the looming end of Sparkpeople as we know it

Monday, June 14, 2021

I was just about to come on here to write a bit about a big weekend I had and then read about Spark ending. So first, about my BIG social weekend...

First, I attended the memorial service for my sister's mother-in-law and aunt-in-law. Both died last year, about a month apart. MIL (Ruth) had been declining for awhile and passed away after breaking her hip. Her sister, Katherine, died of COVID. Sadly, Katherine had also been declining and was basically bedridden in her New York City apartment with only caretakers attending to her. She had no immediate family, and my BIL would try to get out to see her and help with her affairs but that ceased with the pandemic. So, it's likely she contracted COVID from a caregiver.

The service was outside and immediate family only. My BIL and his 2 brothers gave touching tributes to their mom and aunt, both who were incredibly smart, artistic and talented women. Ruth was an amazing artist and created beautiful portraits for family and friends. Her sister was an accomplished harpist on Broadway. I was glad to attend in support of my sister and learn more about their amazing lives.

After, I visited a friend who lives in Santa Rosa, where the memorial service took place. I haven't seen her since the pandemic though we have face timed regularly. We sat and talked for a good 2 hours straight! It was so nice. She made a yummy vegan dinner and I helped her bring her horses in. She lives on some beautiful property there and has 2 horses and a mini. The mini is so cute! She also has a sweet Great Pyrenees rescue named Pearl.

My next visit was to see a high school friend that I connected with last year, after our 40th HS anniversary. She didn't attend but we chatted a few times. She had been a wine maker for YEARS and currently is at Charles Krug. I drove over a huge 2 lane road to get to St. Helena, and it was so devastating to see the impact of the fires that were visible everywhere. And scary, given how dry it is again this year.

The Charles Krug winery is a beautiful place, and we sat outside and talked for a few hours before I needed to drive back to Sacramento. She also gifted me with 6 bottles of amazing wine that she has bottled, mainly Charles Krug, as well as her own label. It's a bummer because I don't drink anymore--- let me tell you, being in wine country sure made that a challenge.

Other than that, I've been participating in a strength training class for cancer survivors via Zoom 2 days per week. It has been really good for me; there are two trainers for 4 of us, and they are watching our form closely while taking us through warm ups and arm exercises using bands. They are certified as "cancer" trainers, and I'm glad to have this expert guidance for the weakened and sore areas while also getting stronger. I'm still walking, swimming and cycling. A group of us did a long ride from Davis to Winters and back yesterday. It got HOT! We will have to start earlier when we do that again.

Well, hearing Spark is changing and shutting this site down is sad. I have been a member since 2008; and although I am not as regular as many, I've always felt a comfort having it here. I've enjoyed the folks who have become Spark friends and have messaged those I've had regular contact with. I have joined the Facebook page, but haven't joined Sparkamerica yet. One of the reasons is that I have been trying to move AWAY from so much of a focus on counting calories and obsessing over what I eat. It has been so much a part of my life that I am trying to deal with my food issues in a more sustainable way - for me. I know this is a very personal thing and as ONEKIDSMOM says, we're all an experiment of one - so everyone has to follow their own path.

I have a blog that I started a few years ago, but have not been active with it. Every time I'd go there to write - I'd come here instead! This has been a safe, welcoming place, and the outside online world sometimes is not. I'm undecided if I will continue to write there. I'd like to have the space to do so.

I am not really too surprised that Spark is ending this version of itself. I joined Spark Premium years ago as a lifetime member, to support the efforts. I don't doubt that it is incredibly expensive to maintain this site. I have noticed that a lot of the content is really dated and know there are few staff. I appreciate what has been offered to me for free all of these years, and that Chris finds another successful venture with the next iteration.

If you'd like my contact information - please message me and I will happily send it to you. In the meantime, while Spark is still active - be well and thanks for reading.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I'm glad to catch up with you.

    I'm sorry for your losses. So many families affected over this last year.

    I did find your blog and bookmarked it.

    I haven't joined SparkAmerica. We are each an "Experiment of One" as OKM says. After 12 years on Spark, I know what I have to do and the motivation to do it isn't likely to come from the new corporate model. Just not my thing.

    Take care of yourself.

    33 days ago
    Nice to hear what you've been up to -- not easy for folks to "catch up" on memorials, post pandemic, but a very important human ritual nevertheless. And so glad to learn that you're getting some expert help with exercise for strengthening and recovery! I'm with you in moving away from a focus on "calorie counting" but absolutely agree: it's an experiment of one, and even for the "one" what works at one point on the journey may need revision at another point . . .
    41 days ago
    your post is inspiring!
    41 days ago
    Betsy, I enjoyed reading this blog and seeing what you've been up to. Both happy and sad times, but it all sounds fulfilling. Your description of your sister's MIL and aunt-in-law was vivid. I am so sorry that the Broadway harpist aunt had to die with only caretakers around. Scenes like that made last year such a sad time, and your BIL must have felt so lonely not being able to go see her because of Covid.

    And your reunion with your wine-making high school friend sounds fun, too. I've heard about the dry conditions in CA and am worried about the fire season this year, too. I hope you and your friends will all be safe from that horror--in fact, I hope everybody will.

    And wow! Your cancer survivor Zoom class sounds like such a gift, with all that expert personal attention! Good for you for taking every opportunity to maintain your health.

    I, too, was shocked and sad that SP is ending. I'm so naive--never thought it cost anybody anything to run this site. I admire your gracious attitude and would like to be that way myself. I've made some good friends and had lots of fun here, but if it's not supporting the people who run it, I understand their need to move on. I have found another site that has a good tracker--Fatsecret. (I have to complain about that name every time I type or think it.) You mentioned that you are trying to get away from diets and tracking, and ultimately I'd like to be like that, too, but I MUST lose weight pretty fast, before my next knee surgery in October, so I decided to give it a try. The atmosphere is different, but there are some Spark refugees over there, and some of them were my good friends here. I don't know yet how much interaction there will be. Nothing like this, I guess.

    I hope you stay well. It reassures me to know that we won't completely lose contact. Take care, my dear. emoticon
    41 days ago
    Sorry for your family's losses, but so glad you were able to finally hold those services for closure. You have plenty of company with other families who have lost members over the past year. Reminds me: I have a cousin we lost this year, and I haven't heard anything about the delayed service. She lived in Colorado, and we weren't in close contact, so I might have missed it!

    If you haven't found your way over to my continuing blogging, I'm over on BlogSpot. I think you might have already commented on one of my entries there? I'm thinking some of us will stay in contact, some won't be able to make the transition, but the biggest thing we'll lose is finding and discovering ever new folks, as they would join up.

    Spark may have got too big, and I totally understand not trying to maintain TWO technical platforms. I have gone over to Spark America (Spark360) as an individual, but it doesn't have my own most powerful tool, blogging! But one observation: a lot of the good Spark content, the learning tools (not the food tracker yet, though)... are there. Hopefully, it will still help a lot of people. And they may just never know what they are missing!

    emoticon Keep on working on that recovery / strengthening that is specific to your cancer survivor status. Wishing you health and happiness, one day at a time!
    41 days ago
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