Sunday, January 06, 2008

Notes From My Knapsack 1-13-08
Jeff Gill

Change Your Life, Step By Step

A cynic might say that I’m about to tell you what you already know, and never will do.

Could be.

An educator would observe that people need to hear things six or seven times before they really “hear” it, which experience tells me is true.

Candidates for national office will say that they have a program to implement most of these steps, which cause most of us to roll our eyes and look for the remote, which is generally the correct response.

With the beginning of a new year, though, life-changing decisions are very much in vogue, as is the usual February collapse of those good intentions. But if you would change your life for the better, a few commonplace everyday thoughts for you:

What would happen if we filled store parking lots the way we do church pews? Everyone knows that no one wants to be in the rows closest to the front, and a seat in the farthest reaches of a sanctuary is often hardest to find.

Step one is MOVE. Anything that gets you moving about a bit more is a step in the right direction, so why not park farther away from the door? C’mon, everyone’s pushing a cart on the way out anyhow, so it isn’t for carrying stuff out that we jostle and wait and pound steering wheels waiting for a front row parking space.

Plus, you’ll hardly ever get door dings out beyond the last car.

A few stairs here, a little stroll there, and you’re exercising as much as many folks who paid for gym membership last week . . . but never go. Just move more, step one.

Step two is EAT COLOR. More salsa on your food is one step (Cholula and Tabasco don’t quite count here, but actually, they just might). Add some pickles here, a slice of tomato there, even just a handful of salad on the side to start, and your diet and digestion are entering new territory.

Food that is all grey, brown, and tan, with splashes of yellow-brown, is food that is sticking to your artery walls. Oatmeal is about the only real exception to this rule, and if you pile brown sugar or syrup on it and mix in cream, we’re right back to where we started. A handful of frozen blueberries thrown in the mix, or raisins, or an orange on the side, and you’ve got the color thing goin’ on.

Yes, fruits and vegetables require a side trip to the produce aisle when shopping, some cleaning and storing and preparation. Doing all that gives you an extra jump on step one, tho’, and gives you the dietary basis to make step two happen.

The other thing about “eating color” is that is usually requires intentional eating, not casual snacking. Unwrapping cellophane or tearing open a bag barely requires thought, which is the whole problem. When you eat color, your brain gets involved, and often tells you things, like . . .

Step three: SLEEP.

Is this one of those magic TV diet secrets: “let pounds melt away while you sleep?” Nope, just the wisdom of letting your body set the rhythm of life, and not the pattern of stimulants and depressants. We often eat and drink stuff we know darn good and well we shouldn’t because we’re trying to wake up, stay awake, or get relaxed enough to go to sleep.

A healthy sleep pattern pays all kinds of amazing benefits, and it comes out in our bodies, our lifestyles, our very lives.

Which also means we find the right time and space to MOVE, which takes us back to step one; lather, rinse, repeat. Three steps, no big deals, and you can change your life.

You may want to try that plan or not, but what I do want to make sure of is that you’re all invited to come Sunday, Jan. 13, to “The Works” just south of Newark’s Courthouse Square, for a 2:00 pm lecture kicking off the Licking County Bicentennial year. I’m coming in the garb and guise of one Chaplain David Jones, the second recorded European visitor to the terrain of what’s now Licking County, a county that formally came into being on March 1, 1808, carved out of Ross County, which came out of Fairfield County which itself was taken from Washington County, the original county of the Northwest Territory.

Jeff Gill is a writer, storyteller, and supply preacher around central Ohio; he’s been digging away at the story of Rev. Jones since 1989, and can’t wait to tell someone about it. Tell your unappreciated story to him at

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