(… with apologies to Huey Lewis & the News …)
Yeah, I been blog-gone since last Friday — for what I think are very good reasons:
- I was tired.
- I needed to rest.
Both of which will not exactly be news to the regular readers of this space — or to anyone who knows me. What with all the stressors of the last year-plus, “being tired/needing to rest/not really knowing how to rest” has become a regular theme of my life and writing. That’s been compounded in the last couple of weeks, as my wife Nina has gone back to work as a Special Education assistant (more on that later this week), and I’ve had to pick up sole care during the days for Sean again. So my energy level, not high in the first place, took another dive.
Thus, I’m taking another run at learning how to rest. And, with God’s help, I’m trying a new tack.
There’s something you need to understand about me. I really do believe that God speaks to people. I also believe that if we’re willing to stop and listen (and set aside our own agendas), we can hear what He’s saying to us. Now, He may not necessarily “speak” using an audible, or even sub-audible, voice. But I believe He will speak to people in whatever way they can most clearly understand Him: prayer, the Bible, other people, circumstances, semaphore, whatever. And that what He has to say is always important and useful — so it behooves us to shut up and hear it.
(One further caveat: I don’t believe God speaking to someone makes them any more valuable or “spiritual” than anyone else. God speaks to lots of folks, maybe everyone. Doesn’t mean you’re special; it just means God isn’t picky.)
With that in mind … as I was praying over the last weekend (when I could keep my eyes open), I believe God laid down some guidelines for me for the following week or so. He did it very simply — befitting how simple I can be — and very logically. In fact, I wrote them down on this Post-It note … oh, wait, you can’t see it when I hold it up to the screen? Okay, let me type it in:
- NO competitions
- NO challenges
- NO cereals*
Nice alliteration there, huh? That was to make sure I remembered it, I guess. And those three tips are what I’ve been trying to live by since about Sunday evening. But let me unpack them a little …
No competitions — cutting out everything that involved competing against someone else, no matter how innocuous. For instance, certain games I play over at Pogo.com are head-to-head against somebody on the Internet, or the Pogo computer — Risk, Battleship, Golf Solitaire, you get the idea. They’re fun, but they’re also higher-stress because you’re having to deal with not only the game but the opponent. And I really get into it — I can be very competitive when I’m not careful. Well, not this week; my Pogoing has been limited to the daily crossword and a Trivial Pursuit-based solo game, both of which are without a victor/vanquished basis.
No challenges — basically, no arguments. It’s too easy to get tied up in debates about this that and the other, and when the Internet is involved, it becomes easy squared. But for seven days, I’m claiming “conscientious objector” status — not only avoiding getting into arguments, but avoiding situations where I’d be likely to get into arguments. Even with my daughter (whom we sometimes call “the little lawyer” for her penchant to tie up conversations over unimportant details), I’ve taken an “uh-uh, not playing that” approach. I doubt she’s even noticed.
No cereals* — well, not quite none; that’s why there’s an asterisk. But I’ve dropped the level of breads, cereals and general “carbs” in my diet by about 90%. It hasn’t been easy trying to figure out what to make for breakfast — with toast, tortillas, pastry and dry cereal out of the picture, I’ve been scrambling for ideas. At least once already I’ve had to make two dinners, one for me and one for Nina and Charlotte (Sean still takes formula through a gastric tube). And gosh darn it, I really like toast, tortillas, pastry and dry cereal (not to mention chips, cookies, pasta, pasta and more pasta)! But with a little planning and self-control, it can be done. Who knows, I could be the first person I’ve met for which an Atkins diet actually works!
So how has it been so far? Well, the jury’s still out — after all, it has only been three days! But I am feeling a little better — due in part to some unexpected side effects.
See, often I would stay up late after Nina and the kids had already zonked, playing those competitive games on Pogo and/or debating people on the “Net (usually the former). With those possibilities unavailable, I’ve been hitting the sack with a book by 9:30. And dropping off to sleep by 10:30 because I don’t have all those carb sugars holding Formula 1 races in my brain. So my sleep has improved. No competitions plus no arguments also means lower levels of adrenalin, which means fewer crashes after the adrenalin turns off. That’s a factor as well.
Not to mention that I have a little more time freed up to read (always the #1 relaxer for me). Or that I’ll have a shorter shopping list come Friday (all those noodles and potatoes I’m not cooking for myself). And the persistent heartburn I’ve suffered over the last several months is seemingly in abeyance (which is also making for easier sleeptime), I’m sure other benefits will accrue as the days go by.
How long will I keep all this up? Well, I’m only pledged for seven days, through Sunday. But if things keep going as well as they have been, I’d be hard pressed to convince myself not to continue. Just goes to show what can happen when you stop and listen to the heavenly Voice … or maybe I should say, when you’re sufficiently exhausted enough to stop and listen.
And now I think I’ll go have a brownie … nope, wait. Make that a plum.