Never Before
by Jean Loxley-Barnard

It's easy to say, "Never again!" I prefer, "Never before." It is a different view of what change can mean.

For a few years I have been - and still am - in a particularly active growth phase. It began with a new kind of weight loss - natural! Slow, steady loss through eating less and better. Making the decision to give up sweets kicked it off. Not giving up to diet or until I lost a certain amount: giving up forever. I don't miss them. I tried cutting back for most of my life and that always ended when I lost weight and thought I could handle sweets again. Like an alcoholic who can't have just one drink, thus it was for me with cookies and sweets.

The decision to eat no cookies, pies, cakes, and so on was so much easier than I could ever have imagined. That was five years ago. I lost slowly for two to three years and hit a plateau that lasted two more years.

This fall five more pounds went away. I had begun to think my scale was broken, fixed on one number. It isn't.

The physical improvement led to other progress.

I have begun to be more direct in communicating. I did not like conflict, still don't. However, I have clearer boundaries than ever before and I want to speak up when I believe they have been crossed. It has become easier for me to be direct and I can feel - feel - the difference in my stress when I address a situation rather than "let it go."

Never before have
I felt
so balanced, and I
still have a way to go. I started
with never again but it
led to
never before!

Surprisingly, the anger that I once stuffed down goes away when I speak up. I have kept long-term relationships and always want to, as long as they are healthy. I've had a few that were not and I no longer need to keep all relationships. My belief is that those we associate with influence us. Some become mentors, counselors, and advisors. If our relationships reach the heights we wish for, we will become better people.

And time ticks away. Do any of us have time to waste with anyone who is not uplifting? It is one thing to uplift another. It is another thing to let someone bring us down. Worthwhile relationships are symbiotic.

Never before have I felt so balanced, and I still have a way to go. I started out with never again but it led to never before!

Jean Loxley-Barnard has been a writer all her life and studied both sociology and psychology at George Washington University where she earned a B.A. Her company, The Shopper, Inc., encompasses all the Loxley-Barnard family publications - The Shopper Magazines and Doctor to Doctor Magazine. She has been in the advertising, consulting and publishing business for 39 years.