Stopping Keto for even the two feast days of Christmas Eve and Christmas Day blew up my keto success. I was doing so well! But the carbs of Christmas came calling… and didn’t stop calling through Epiphany. And then I got sick, sick, sick for over a week – and all I could stand to swallow was cool refreshing orange juice, ginger ale, and moose tracks ice cream. None of which are on any Keto plan.
Today, though – I finished the last of the ginger ale. The last of the orange juice disappeared yesterday. I threw away so much bad stuff getting the trash ready for pickup this week. And tomorrow morning – I set out again on this Keto journey of 22 grams of carbs a day. My poor chubby body will go into shock.
Fortunately, a friend recently sent me a new cookbook full of keto recipes – Simply Keto by Suzanne Ryan. I have an accountability partner – I can do this! Anyone who says otherwise doesn’t realize what I’ve already accomplished. It’s not over – I’m just beginning again.
Yes, you read that right. Book Club! (Or as I misspelled it in a DM to a friend, “boom club.” That did make it sound more enticing!) I joined my current group about a year or so before the Big Disruption – COVID-19. That shot our monthly meetings all to heck and gone – we didn’t meet again for over 18 months, I think. Days, weeks, months, all flow together in my brain.
A focused group
I love that that the group I joined goes in depth on the works of a select few writers: C.S. Lewis, J.R.R.Tolkien, Hugo Dyson, Charles Williams – all the writers that met together as “The Inklings.” The Columbia book club is named “The Inklings” in homage to them. This winter we started reading The Magician’s Nephew, from the Chronicles of Narnia series. I loved reading these books, and can’t wait to see how we’ll draw on the themes that this book begins to illuminate even in the first two chapters: a person’s character, honor, our responsibility to others, and more. Plus, the color illustrations by Pauline Baynes in the 2001 edition are beautiful.
Junk reading: the cotton candy of the brain
Of course I don’t read only literary fiction. I’m not finishing up some of the weighty tomes that I listed in a previous post last summer. In fact, I’m buying trashy non-fiction and fiction books and gobbling them up like popcorn and Milk Duds at the cineplex.
And I’m not fooling anyone by hiding them on my Kindle. In fact, that’s one of the two reasons I bought a Kindle. I first decided to buy one after I started running out of bookshelves, counter space, end table space, and floor space to stack books. Once I had it, I realized I could hide those unauthorized celebrity biographies, wacky sci-fi, dystopian end-of-the-world fantasies, polemical screeds, and the Twilight series on the Kindle. Oh, how I wish I was kidding about that last one. Several hours of my life that I’ll never get back.
On December 22, 2016, I moved to my current home. At that time, my TV was an old, old model – circa 1998. My dad gave it to me after he upgraded to a flat screen.
But first, a tangent: The previous television I had was even older: I had a 1988 model that I kept until the over-the-air broadcast signal changed. The day I took that monster to the Best Buy to recycle it and get a $10 gift certificate I almost dropped it in the parking lot. A sweet 21-year-old guy saw me and rushed to help by carrying it into the store. He put it down on the customer service counter and said, “My wife and I bought this TV here last week and it doesn’t get those HDTV signals. We’d like to return it.” The Geeks burst out laughing.
That TV I had in 2016 was beyond saving. The remote didn’t work at all, no matter what. The picture was fuzzy, and the thing was still a huge monster. So, I put it out on the curb and called the city of Forest Acres for electronics pickup. Thus began my six years and counting without a TV.
And it hasn’t been too bad
I have two huge monitors on my computer in the home office, plus two laptops, and an iPhone. I certainly don’t lack for screentime. And if I have to watch a movie, I just adjust one of those big monitors, cosy up in the big chair in my office and stream something. That takes care of that.
Plus, more time for reading. And hobbies!
I probably would never have discovered some of my favorite podcasts without going TV-less. And I do have SO MANY MORE books than I’ve ever had before – and more time to read.
Last night the fourth Christmas party of the season got to me. I had hot cocoa with whipped cream, marshmallows, AND chocolate syrup. Then it was on to sample the spiked eggnog. I had to fix a plate of homemade cheese crackers, pigs in blankets, and haystacks. Needless to say, NONE of that was good for ketosis. I didn’t even bother to enter it in my Atkins tracker.
Most of the time, though, the Keto has been going so well! Working from home I can control everything I make for lunch, and the dishes I’m coming up with are fantastic. Nice fatty Bulletproof coffee is keeping me going in the mornings, and the shrimp, hamburger, steak, and chicken dishes I’m cooking up are wonderful.
The benefits are adding up beyond the weight loss
I’ve had SO MUCH more energy. I used to sleep at least 8 hours a night. Now I go to bed and 10 and wake up before 5 – sometimes even 4:30 – without an alarm clock.
When I stick to the Keto plan I’m on (Atkins 20) I’m not hungry. Really! I couldn’t quite believe it either.
I swear this is true: my knees don’t hurt as much when I kneel at church.
I’m saving $$$ on restaurants
Who needs to spend $15 on a Philly cheesesteak at my favorite diner, when I can make the same at home with Steak-ummm?
Before I started “weaning” myself off my smartphone – I couldn’t have handled a 651-page book – even one as entertaining as “Shut Up! The Bizarre War that One Public Library Waged Against the First Amendment.”
This book makes me so glad I did the work to get my concentration back. Authors Megan Fox and Kevin DuJan tell the tale of their multi-year fight with a public library which allowed adults to access porn on their computers – and did nothing to stop it, saying it was allowed by the First Amendment. (Spoiler alert: no, the Supreme Court ruled libraries do NOT have to allow access to porn.)
A pleasant day turned peep show
At the beginning of the saga, Megan was a homeschooling mama of two little girls, named “Seven” and “Four” to protect them in the book. One day she decided to take them to the Orland Park Public Library with friend Kevin along with the ride. A quick errand to print some homeschool activity sheets led to a three-year saga – complete with lawsuits and a cast of characters that could fill a long-running soap opera. Here’s how Megan described it:
“There’s the awkward sibling of a beloved TV icon; a national hero from the Reagan administration; a former Playboy model, jewel thief, ex-wife of a Chicago Bear, ex-girlfriend of an infamous mobster who turned state’s evidence against him (and those last four are all the same person!); Our Ladies of the Perpetually Furrowed Brows; the heiress to the Comiskey baseball diamonds; a former United States Senate candidate from Illinois (who is more famous for once being married toa Sci-Fi starlet who flew around the universe in a spaceship); the King of Journalism; a gargoyle; someone who sold his soul on eBay (like it was a good thing); hot cops; … some of the best lawyers in the whole damn world (pitted against clearly some of the worst) … SNL’s Weekend Update; … the Karate Kid; famous legal scholars; fearless watchdogs; sexually harassed whistleblowers; and the nation’s leading expert on the dangers to children in public libraries.”
Truly, this book had EVERYTHING, as Megan described it: “Sex, government corruption, child porn, a gold heist, libel, slander, defamation, lawsuits, death and rape threats, police harassment, a SLAPP, cloak and dagger intrigue, fruits, 7 pounds of Italian beef and 2 large jugs of peppers, and special interest groups out to sabotage a suburban mom and her whimsical gay friend.”
Kevin and Megan take turns, chapter by chapter, telling the story. Their styles of storytelling complement and contrast with each other. Both bring in themes from children’s stories to anchor the tale: if you’ve read Harry Potter you’ll love the way they work in references to that saga. Kevin’s style is more “whimsical” as Megan said, and Megan’s motherly concern doesn’t just shine through – she’s on the warpath to make the library safe for all kids. Thank God these two are people who NEVER back down. They fought a public governmental body for years and triumphed. The best stories are ones where good defeats evil – and that’s exactly what happens here.
At the end, you, the reader are drawing in a long breath after just reading about it. By the time the final lawsuit was settled, Megan had added another baby to her family. Kevin was advising other libraries how to prevent these horrors from happening.
I wanted another book – a sequel. What new adventure did Kevin and Megan have? What crimes are they uncovering? Today, you can follow Megan’s investigative reporting on PJ Media and on her YouTube channel. I haven’t been successful finding Kevin’s public profile (but then, I don’t use Facebook anymore!) I’m sure wherever he is, he’s busy employing his talents of organization, letter-writing and campaigning to keep fighting for government accountability.
Now that the COVID-mania of 2020 and 2021 seems to have lifted, I want to live life instead of watching it happen. Doing, instead of being in the audience, is my thing. That’s why I joined the choir in my church – I didn’t want to just watch other people sing; I want to be in on it too! Why be a spectator?
I’ve made strides toward more living, less watching before. When I first moved into my house in December of 2016, I moved my circa-2000 television with me. That thing was an old bulky set – definitely not a flat screen. The remote control stopped working sometime in the late 2010s.
I worked around it by actually getting up to change the channel, like in the 1970s. I started watching less and less television over the years, and I decided once I moved, I was going to put that old wreck on the curb and run an experiment: how long can I go without a TV in the house?
My quest to draw closer to Jesus continues, no matter where I go. At times I’m very good about devotions in the morning, praying and reading my Bible; most of the time, I honor daily devotions in the breach by thinking about it for a few minutes. And then feeling guilty. Every time I deviate from my ideal I realize that I’m falling away from relationship with the Lord. He doesn’t move away from me; I’m the one straying. That’s one of the reasons I’m so grateful for the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. The structured Morning Prayer, Evening Prayer, and sometimes Compline have been a super way to keep me praying, reading Scripture, and spending time with God. Not that I do them all the time. Like I said, I’ve been much better at observing them as something I should do.
When I discovered podcasts devoted to morning prayer, I was thrilled. Finally – a way to listen to Morning Prayer while walking my dog! (Usually, I’m listening to something that isn’t filling my head with good news.) CotA’s church plant, All Souls, created the wonderful 10-minute podcast Lord, Open My Lips and I use that. Another way I’m focusing on God is to go to the Wednesday morning Eucharist our church offers. I’d been off and on, but on my birthday last October, I decided my goal for the next year was to go each week. I’ve been more often than not and I’m keeping on.
It’s not usual to find an Anglican running around in my part of the South; anybody seeking out liturgy is usually an Episcopalian. Most of my friends today in Columbia are Southern Baptist. That only makes sense, because 1) I spent 20 years in a Southern Baptist church, and 2) the top three religions in South Carolina are Baptist, Methodist, and SEC Football. But over the years my spiritual journey, ever since I was 12, has led me to going to where I truly think the Spirit of Truth is. I felt that in my time with Wesley Monumental, with Lamb’s Chapel, and then RHBC. Right now, that is in the Church of the Apostles, a member of the ACNA. In my Apostles 101 class I loved how our past Dean (that’s a fancy Anglican word for the head priest at the cathedral church of the Diocese) described the church: the place where the Scriptures are rightly taught and the Sacraments observed. At least that’s how I remembered the saying. And everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve been looking for a place that carefully paid attention to the Bible and actually believed it.
I think I’ll end my journey written journey here, with part 7. It is, after all, the perfect number.
This is the next-to-last post in this series. If you need to catch up, just look at the previous five weeks of posts!
It started with an Excel spreadsheet. Wait: before the Excel spreadsheet, there was an unfortunate administration change at my old church. RHBC’s beloved senior pastor was retiring after a long career. And the new guy was (is) hard-charging, young, enthusiastic, with clear vision and purpose. Unfortunately, his vision didn’t include the outstanding choir director who had led our choir for the past 10+ years. After he was shown the door, I waited until Christmas, to sing in one last Christmas cantata. (I wouldn’t have done that again to witness the chaos resulting from a choir that wasn’t fully in sync with the director and vice versa – missed cues, botched songs. Ah, schadenfreude!) I waited some more, thinking we’d get a new permanent choir leader and everything would start afresh. When that didn’t happen, and the temporary director became the director, my last day was Easter Sunday 2018.
Here’s where the Excel spreadsheet came in. I put together a list of the requirements I was looking for in a church and decided to start visiting around. Here’s what I put them on a spreadsheet:
Hopefully I will wrap this multi-part series up soon, but no promises….
That Disciple Bible study was the first time I had done in-depth Bible study. I wouldn’t study the Bible so thoroughly for another two years. I finished the course and put the Good Book back on the shelf to gather dust. In the meantime, I left Savannah, took a job that kept me working afternoons and evenings, and stopped going to church for quite a while.
It wasn’t until I started attending Lamb’s Chapel, a non-denominational church in my next town that I truly started reading the Bible again. I went there because a couple of friends I made in my new town were attending. It was as different from the liturgical United Methodist church as could be … there was no liturgy. Instead, we sang all out for about 30 minutes, followed by a few announcements. Then, the senior pastor would commence to preach, straight from the Bible, for 45 minutes. And what made it fascinating was that I actually liked hearing his sermons. They weren’t the dry sermons I was used to hearing. I actually started taking my new copy of The NIV Study Bible with me to church and making notes in it. I marked up that new Bible completely with notes from those sermons. I stayed at that wonderful, non-denominational, Bible-filled church until I left Florence about 18 months later.
This is the fourth in a multi-part series on how I grew in my Christian faith. See part 1, part 2, and part 3 to catch up.
Ah, the recycling. That and the fact I was pulled in so many directions, like most American teens, had a lot to do with my falling away from the faith for quite some time. I may have attended church during the college years, but it was a faith grown “lukewarm.” Yuck.
After graduation I moved to Savannah in early 1990 for my first job. Sad to say, part of my motivation for finding a church was 1) because the president of the place I interviewed at told me about important church was to him and 2) I was looking for one of those beautiful old churches in the historic district. Not too much on the actual faith part – more of a “looking good” type churchgoer. In a happy accident I wandered across one of the most spirit-filled churches of all, which just happened to be historic, beautiful, and blessed with a magnificent 60-rank Noack organ: Wesley Monumental Church. I was determined to go to a church with glorious music just once in my life!