Let’s Talk About Diets

I love the smell of freshly baked bread, cinnamon cookies, and chicken roasting in the oven. I love the sight of bright red apples sitting in the center of my counter. I love the feel of chocolate melting slowly on my tongue. I love everything about food, the aromas, the texture, the appearance. Except lutefisk, I don’t love that.

Food is a necessary ingredient of life. It’s sustains us, gives us energy, keeps our minds alert. Without it we wither and die. Obviously, God gave us food for a reason.

As I ate my lunch today (salmon cakes with homemade pickles, and a blended drink of carrots, oranges, mango, and ginger), I began to think about the different foods in the world, how blessed we were to have them, and how some people have eliminated many of these foods from their lives.

That got my mind wandering further (as it often does) to the types of diets that have existed over the years. I got a little curious and began to do some searching.

There have been a lot of diets over the past decades: Paleo, grapefruit, vegan, vegetarian, detox, kosher, fruitarian, lacto-ovo, flexitarian, pescetarian, plant-based, gluten-free, SCD, plus a host of others, including those that are based on our blood-type, the area our ancestors lived, and diets of the rich and famous. (Makes me dizzy just thinking about it.)

Some diets are necessary, like one that keeps a celiac from gluten, or a diabetic away from sugar. Some diets are understandable, like foods prohibited in one’s religion, or those based on other personal beliefs. But some diets, they are just plain silly, like the junk food diet. Did you know there was such a thing? Don’t even get me started on that one.

The problem I see is this, we are often sucked in (by the grand media) to believe that a certain diet will make our lives better. We will: Feel Better, Look Better, Be More Appealing, Lose Weight (sometimes with no exercise!), and most importantly, Be Popular. Who doesn’t want that?

But I wonder, was eating meant to be that complicated? Were we meant to be on constant diets, always monitoring our calories and food intake? I don’t think so.

I’ve tried other diets. I’ve been vegan, and vegetarian. I am gluten-free (out of necessity), and eliminate other foods from my diet as well (gotta love allergies!) But as for any food my body willingly takes (without my throat closing-up, or my stomach going into a frenzy), I will gladly eat it.

Diets are difficult. It’s not hard when you eat at home, preparing your own meals (as long as it is from whole, unprocessed foods), but try going to a restaurant when you are a vegan, and I can guarantee you most restaurants don’t get it completely right. Mixed inside those ‘vegan’ meals are often things like casein (protein from milk), red dyes made from crushed-up beetles, and beef gelatin. Even miso soup (a vegan staple) may contain fish flakes.

I just don’t believe eating was supposed to be this hard. We were given whole foods, fresh, growing on trees and in the ground. We were given animals to treat responsibly and eat in moderation. God set our bodies up for that. Why do we insist on changing it? Oh yeah, it will us make us popular.

But I don’t care about popularity. I just like my life simple. So I will pull an apple off the tree, a tomato from the vine, and blueberries from a bush. I will eat a simple meal of fish and organic vegetables.

Diet really is simple. We just make it difficult.

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Fear

I fear for the next generation. For the way we have selfishly pillaged and stripped the earth of its beauty, replacing once-forested areas with oil refineries. For the way land sits idle, like a forlorn war zone, void of life.

I fear for the future generation that will never see the full glory of the earth we were blessed with. Instead, majestic mountains will be the artistry behind mounds of trash, landfills will replace fields of wildflowers.

I fear for our future, where ships that once swam easily across the sea now rise high and cast their waste overboard. Where fish now feast upon garbage, gasping and choking, dying, leaving our circle of life.

I fear for the future, for where we once breathed clean air we now breathe poisons that fill our lungs and seep into our pores. Where the winds of bygone days blew across fair plains, pure and crisp, their tails now pick up toxins that kill and destroy.

I fear for the next generation. For once we leave this earth, we will be thrown back into the heap of rubbish we have created. But the next generation, they will be left with our mess.

 

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10 Reasons I Love Lists

It’s safe to say I am obsessed with lists. I love the numbers lined up neatly on the side of the paper, the sense of organization, the details of what needs to be accomplished. In all honesty, I never have just one list. I have multiple lists, all for different facets of my life. If you are a list-maker, you know what I mean.

This week, it turns out my lists were an illusion, a futile attempt to keep my life simple and organized. Sometimes the best-laid plans . .

I will never stop making lists, but after this week, I began to wonder: Do lists give us the illusion that we can accomplish more than we really can? Do they truly keep us on task? How many other people are list-makers? Are any of them famous? I did some research.

It seems lists are common among some very well-known, accomplished people, celebrities like Madonna, Ellen Degeneres, and Martha Stewart. But that’s not all, Benjamin Franklin was well-known for his lists, as were Thomas Jefferson and Charles Lindbergh.

I guess I’m in good company.

If famous people make lists, then they must know something the rest of us can learn from. They must know how lists can turn a hectic life into a simple and organized one. They probably also know that some weeks, even the grandest plans can go awry.

Because I love lists, I have created one just for you:

The top ten reasons I keep a list:

 

  1. They keep me organized. I have a list for each area of my life, including work, website tasks, and home chores. More than that, I keep lists of books I want to read, and movies I desire to watch.
  2. They help me remember. I don’t have to rely on my memory for all the things that need to be done.
  3. They keep my brain free for more important things. The less I have running around in my brain, the more I can focus on what needs to be done each day.
  4. I know what I have to do. No guessing, wondering, or thinking about it.
  5. I know what I have accomplished. I love crossing items off my list.
  6. It takes away stress. Less to think about equals less stress.
  7. It gives me peace. (Which only makes sense if there is less stress.)
  8. It gives me control. In a world that feels totally off-kilter sometimes, it’s nice to have a little control.
  9. It keeps me focused. I know what needs to be done, and I do it.
  10. I am less likely to procrastinate.

Yes, sometimes I wonder if lists make my life more complicated. It’s one more thing I need to do. But then again, without them, I wonder how much I would accomplish. I wonder if I would remember the twenty things that need to be done on my website, the people I need to call, or the essays I still need to write.

This week didn’t go as planned, but that won’t stop me from making lists. The pieces I didn’t get done this week are just transferred to next week, and I don’t even have to think about it.

I will always love lists.

Are you a list maker?

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An Unintentional Life of Simplicity

It began as a simple act, one thin piece of paper needing to be filed away.

I opened the first of two small security boxes, each containing twelve green folders. As I slid the paper inside its designated file, a broken tab caught my eye. I pulled the folder out, inspecting its contents. The pages were old, torn, yellowed with age. Papers I had long forgotten, most of which I no longer needed.

I made two piles, one for the shredder, the other to be refiled. But I didn’t stop with that one folder. I sorted through each file, amazed at the amount of papers our small family had accrued. Half an hour later, I was done. Each file was cleansed, a large pile of papers ready to be shredded sat by my feet, and my two file boxes had been reduced to one.

I stared at the pile before me, happy, content, and a little confused. I hadn’t planned on this, and yet here I was, another piece of my life simplified, another pile of junk ready to be tossed, another room one step closer to the minimalistic life I desired.

How did this happen? I used to plan my days around simplicity, wondering what I could do to make my life easier, constantly looking for something to throw away. I set goals, made plans, even plotted steps on a calendar. I looked forward to the day I would have a simple, minimal life. And it all seemed so hard.

Was it meant to be this complicated? Probably not, but I think in the process of creating goals, I had forgotten the most important part. I had forgotten to enjoy the journey.

Minimalism isn’t about having less in your life, though that is one goal. Simplicity isn’t about an easy life, though that is definitely an asset. What this is really about is the journey, the changes in ourselves, the new life waiting for us on the other side.

When I decided to enjoy my travels, my life became easier. Just like the files I purged, I am constantly purging my life, and no longer have to think about it.

I am on a journey, and always will be. Life is like that, the old and new intermixed, a constant transformation. But now I enjoy this path, no goals, no long lists, no plotting my travels. I am truly on my way to an unintentional life of simplicity. And I am loving every minute of it.

Enjoy your journey!

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Addicted to Busy

The Busy Addict

I am addicted to busy. I say it like it’s a badge of honor bestowed upon me by society, a gift placed in my hand, a trophy upon my mantel. Our society tells us we should be busy, because if we aren’t, we are nobody. It’s as if to be in a constant rush determines the value of our lives upon this earth. How sad is that?

Is our existence really dependent on the amount of activities we are engaged in? Is our worth determined by the number of clubs we, and our children, belong to? I don’t think so.

Life is, at times, hectic, there’s no denying that. We work, prepare meals, launder clothing, and maintain homes. We drive children to every activity from soccer and dance, to plays and concerts. We are involved in church groups, community events, and volunteer functions. To top it off, we add every social media button to our computers, and involve ourselves in any Facebook group that slightly resembles something we are interested in. In other words, busy is often of our own accord.

I try to stay away from busy, because, quite honestly, I get tired. But as much as I try, my days are often filled with endless activities, projects and classes I have added to my calendar, until my days bleed with only a sheer reminder of what life was meant to be.

I don’t think we are supposed to be in constant motion, any more than I believe we were intended to sit dipping our toes in a cool stream all day (though there is nothing I would love more). There must be a balance. There must be a way to rid ourselves of this obsession we have to race against the hands of time.

 

The Power of NO

I think there is something we can do. It requires nothing more than breathing one simple word.

NO.

One word that will set you free.

I often have to be reminded of this.

When my children were young, I was asked to volunteer for umpteen activities, including church picnics and school fairs I didn’t even want to attend. I know I was asked because I could be counted on, because I was a woman who couldn’t say ‘no.’

It wasn’t only volunteering that got me in trouble with my time, it was my own family. I did everything for them, baking cookies late into the night, staying up late to help with projects, and signing my children up for so many sports one summer, I didn’t even have a chance to watch them play.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not against these things. Volunteering is fantastic. In fact, it’s a necessity. I believe we were placed on this earth to help one another. I believe we should give our time, when we can.

I also believe children should be involved in activities outside school. It’s what helps them grow and discover who they are.

As for our families, it’s hard to say no when you are asked to bake something special or help with a school project.

But the problem is, at some point, we break. No matter what color your cape, or how much coffee you drink, you can never do it all.

And that’s okay. You weren’t meant to.

A wise friend once told me, when you say yes to everything, you may very well be taking away someone else’s blessing, someone who has a heart for the school play, a passion for the church concert.

Your family will live without fresh cookies this week. The school and church will find another volunteer. Your children don’t need to be involved in two, or three, sports at one time. It’s okay to say no.

As for me, I am resolved to let one project go, and focus only on the necessity. My classes are down to one, not two. And my husband will survive without a freshly baked confection to have with his morning tea.

This week, once again, I learn the power of ‘no.’ Will you join me?

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