Just Don’t OVER-Do It!

just-say-noToday is the first time in four months that I have been able to sit still, assemble my collected thoughts and put them on paper (or electronic device).  Considering the fact that I have a blog, albeit a grossly-unattended one, this is completely unacceptable.  Whether I write for profit, inspiration, or my own medication… I must write.   It is who I am.  It is what I do.   I am taking time for myself today, a proverbial “mental health day”, which actually benefits spirit, mind and body.

“You can’t pour from an empty cup.”
And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest awhile.”  For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat.  (Mark 6:31)

Life gets busy, and I have been busy;  but busy doing what?  I have been busy doing life:  working, cleaning, shopping, and balancing checkbooks.  I have been keeping check on neighbors, my car engine light, and my thyroid levels.  I vacuum almost every day due to  that loveable, 55-pound four-legged fur-ball we adopted, and my husband’s allergies.  They are completely worth it, but I applaud and give heartfelt thanks to my light-weight Oreck vacuum cleaner, and for Rosie, the Roomba-Robot.  I have apparently not, however, been busy enough dusting the furniture.  But I digress …

With a mere six weeks remaining in this calendar year, I reflect back on the past 11 months, and the promises I made to myself.  You know, those so-called resolutions we all make but seldom keep.  I have not gone to the gym as routinely as I intended, and not at all since early summer.  I have not yet designed new t-shirts for our ministry.  And I have not recorded the weekly videos for the ministry You-Tube channel, as intended.  I have not lost those last 15 pounds, nor have I abstained from all things sweet-n-starchy, as intended.  And I have not, alas, finished that third book I planned to publish by the end of this year, nor have I started it.  I am not lazy and I am not a failure.  I am overwhelmed.

Resolutions.  Plans.  Noble intentions.  We all have them as we should.  I believe it is imperative and healthy to “write the vision” and set new goals.  Taking on new challenges can be educational and rewarding.  But how about we take inventory of our lives and assess ourselves accordingly?  I recently did this (again), and hung my head in shame.  Or perhaps it was mere exhaustion, but my gaze was downcast nonetheless.  Not very fitting for a motivational/inspirational writer/preacher/teacher gal.

The above-stated inventory contains three unprofitable income stream attempts, 27 Facebook groups (four of which I moderate), and six Facebook pages to manage.  I have a stack of unread books by my “quiet-time” chair,  and random paperwork strewn across the “to be filed” corner of my desk.  I have furniture piled high in the garage waiting to be polished or painted for the “Robin’s Nest” booth.  Did I mention the used furniture/home decor store I opened in late summer?  Much of my free time has been spent in building and collecting that inventory, but that venture has been a pure joy and a fun hobby that my husband and I do together.  If we continue, it promises to be profitable for us and the ministry.  But it does take time.

Nike coined the phrase that has become the motivational mantra of our generation:  “Just Do It!”  The problem lies when we try to just do it all.  We often spread ourselves too thin with those resolutions, plans, good intentions and new ventures, leaving precious little time for the most important things:  1) Prayer/Spiritual life; 2) Family & Friends; 3) Physical/Mental Health; and 4) our true gifts and calling.

So after a night of prayerful reflection and meditation (I have become a chronic insomniac), I return to the resolution I made on January 1st of this year:  Prioritize.  Eliminate the things/activities that hinder the more important things.  Just say “no” to the unprofitable time-wasters.  Focus on my health, my family, and the work that God has called me to.  If it does not move me toward my goals, it has to go.  I must “just say ‘no’.”

In my first writing class nearly 30 years ago, the instructor emphasized this one thing that we should adhere to:  “Find what you do, and do it well.”  This will require pruning and just saying “no” to many things.  It will require consolidating and utilizing better time management.  It will require living everyday life with intent and purpose, and prayerful focus.  It will require simplifying and downsizing.  But I can do this.  We can do this.  We must do this, for our own sanity and sense of accomplishment.

Now, let’s just do it!


Hashi-Smashi – I’m Rocking the Pineapple

36301761_2344156025600300_321252893631971328_nThe fashion experts say we should NEVER wear horizontal stripes but I am rocking my new pineapple shirt and skinny jeans today!  (Still a rebel of sorts, I suppose.)  I’m down 15 pounds since this time last year, and I’m quite proud of that.  I realize that losing approximately 1.25 pounds per month is not all that impressive, but when I look back to where I came from, I am truly amazed.

This time last summer I was stressed to the max, closing on two houses at once, and preparing for a big move by myself.  My husband Ed had already come to Anderson to start his new job, and I was left with packing up the house, supervising showings, inspections, and everything else that comes along with selling a house.  I was also organizing house inspections and appraisals on the new house we were buying in another town at the same time.  Having been recently diagnosed with Hashimoto’s, I had little to no energy, and it was a struggle to drag myself out of bed each day.  I would become so faint that I would nearly pass out just walking to the mailbox.  Yes, I was overweight, but I was also very sick.

We made the move and I continuously scoured the Internet groups for information on how to survive my illness.  I was already missing five major organs (thyroid, uterus, ovaries, appendix and gallbladder), so my hormones were completely out of “whack”, as we say in the South.  I learned that my digestive issues were closely related to, or likely the cause of, my plight.  The more I read about Hashimoto’s, the more depressed I became.  The group members assured me that I would only get worse.  They promised that one auto-immune disease would inevitably lead to another until I was completely bedridden and disabled.  I could eat nothing with any taste ever again.  I would no longer be able to work or to function as a normal human being.  I was descending into a psychological hole much deeper than the one my physical illness had thrown me in to.

I experimented with every diet out there, failing each one.  I jumped on Atkins, Paleo, Auto-Immune Protocol, Anti-Inflammatory, Keto, Low-fodmap, The Blood-Type diet, Vegetarian, etc.  I eliminated “trigger foods” such as dairy, gluten, sugar and soy.  I spent a small fortune on supplements, only to discover that I could not absorb vitamins properly until my tummy healed.  I got very confused as the “experts” began to contradict each other.  One would recommend raw broccoli and cabbage, and another would insist that those foods would deplete my thyroid levels.  One would tout onions and tomatoes as superfoods, and another would warn that those “night-shade” vegetables (along with peppers and potatoes) would cause more inflammation and do more harm than good.  Brown rice is gluten-free, but it is also a carb so I was literally afraid to eat it.  I carried a bottle of digestive enzymes in my purse, popping pills with every meal.  It was a very frustrating roller-coaster ride that often resulted in tears and junk food binges; which in turn would lead to another depressive episode wherein I would throw up my hands and declare to no one in the room, “I can’t do this!”

My sweet husband put up with my mood swings and meltdowns.  He tirelessly endured my snapping “I can’t eat that!” during some very frustrating trips to the grocery store.   Then he would just scratch his head when I’d stop for ice cream on the way home.  But the day he looked at me and lovingly said, “I miss ‘happy Robin'”, was the day everything changed!  I missed her too, and remembered that the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the grave also lived inside of me (Roman 8:11), and I was NOT going to go down without a fight.  That day I set out on a journey to regain my health, my life, and my “happy”.

I decided that stressing myself out over food was only exacerbating the problems.  Stress will kill you, right?  The one common denominator in all the “diets” I tried named refined sugar as the number one poison that everyone should avoid.  It feeds cancer cells and causes chronic inflammation, which causes nearly every disease known to man.  So I have made gigantic strides in eliminating as much sugar from my routine as possible.  I will, however, still treat myself to some dark chocolate and the occasional ice cream cone.  I gave up all sodas and put no sugar in my coffee.  I have cut back tremendously on my carb intake, but I do not count them.  Life is too short for all that detail.  I have tried to incorporate as many vegetables as possible, but if I do not like something, I simple do not eat it.  I realized that every body is different, and each can tolerate certain foods better than others.  If it hurts or makes my tummy swell upon eating it, I avoid it.  I have cut way back on bread, but will treat myself now and then.  After all, the extra fiber is a bonus!

I finally realized that the answer was really quite simple:  eat real foods that our bodies foodwere designed to eat.  Our glorious Creator has provided everything we need to sustain and maintain our bodies until He calls us home.  I do my best to avoid things “processed”, and eat as many meats and vegetables as I can consume.  For seasonings, I only use olive or coconut oils, Himalayan pink salt and black pepper, fresh garlic and ginger.  (Hubby still adds Texas Pete hot sauce or Mexican salsa to most of his meals.)  Fruit is my go-to for a sweet fix.  I add fiber wherever I can, to keep things moving and improving.

Unless it is pouring rain, I get outside every day.  I walk, if only for 15 minutes, but plan to do more.  I stretch every day, and of course spend quality time in Bible Study and prayer.  I still cheat and probably always will, but I no longer beat myself up over it.  The Lord’s mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22-24), so I simply start fresh with each new sunrise.

Today I have more energy than I have had in years.  I am finally sleeping through the night again, and I have come off all medications for depression, anxiety and blood pressure!  I’m winning this war, and I am rocking the pineapple!  I am, “Happy Robin”.