When Will Parker courts Ado Annie in the musical “Oklahoma!,” he wants to make sure she’s stopped fantasizing about a traveling peddler and is ready to be all in with him. The flirtatious back-and-forth in the song is great fun, and the chorus lingers long after you leave the theater. “With me it’s all er nuthin’. Is it all er nuthin’ with you?” Will sings.
Well, I’m all in with my husband and our thirty-year marriage. No question there. But Will’s question seems to apply to the rest of my life. I’ve discovered in my 71 years that either I’m disciplined in my eating, my exercise, my work and my spiritual life, or I’m not disciplined in any area at all. With me it’s all er nuthin’.
It’s the New Year. I don’t do resolutions, but I do have goals. Resolutions seem too daunting; goals seem more manageable because they can be broken down into bite-sized bits. And since we’ve mentioned bite-sized, let’s go ahead and discuss the bane of most women over 40—the diet! I was such a skinny little girl I was always being dragged to the doctor to make sure I wasn’t anemic, sick, or disappearing. That all changed when I turned 40, my first time to go to Weight Watchers, and became a very distant memory after 50. All I want to know is, how old do you have to be before you get to be a wizened old lady?
Anyone remember the grapefruit diet in the ‘80s? How about the cabbage soup diet? Evidently women today are just as gullible as we were back then, because there is no shortage of fad diets, “magic” weight loss pills, and eating plans on the market. Each time one disappoints, I hear my mom saying, “Moderation in all things.” (That works for me as long as I’m less than moderate with carbs.) No matter what the covers of magazines promise, the only solution is to eat less and move more. Find an eating plan that works for you and stick to it. Don’t be tempted to try whatever works for others! (Studies show Weight Watchers is still the safest, healthiest, most effective plan overall.)
So that’s handled. How about the “move more” advice? The key is to find something you really enjoy—and DO it! I can’t imagine how ginormous I would be if I stopped exercising, but I’ve done many different things over the years. I jogged three miles every morning until I decided I’d rather finish life with my own knees, so I started walking instead and still love to walk. For many years I also went to Curves, a fitness circuit with resistance training. Then I developed a heel problem and was surprised to learn how much I loved substituting swimming laps for anything load bearing.
Now? I’m a full-fledged Zumba grandma! Every time I leave a Zumba class at the Y I feel like a dancer. I’m exercised all over, and the music has put me in a better mood than I was in when I arrived. But to get that feeling, I have to GO, right? Simple. But it means saying no to lunch with friends on those days. Bummer? Not when you focus on the results.
And then there’s work. I haven’t had a dedicated writing schedule since my last book came out almost three years ago—and we moved at the same time. But now I have, wait for it, actual assignments! I know what to do, I just have to do it. I have to set mini-deadlines for myself that I hold so seriously that I tell myself that if I miss a deadline a vicious bear will come through my office window and eat me. Or my cat. Either way, I can’t miss a deadline. All er nuthin’.
And finally, spiritual discipline. I won’t be able to stick to any of the above if I ever abandon my morning quiet time with the Lord. That’s the one thing that has held steady through all the wishy-washiness of the last few years. (See the blog “Molly the Quiet Time Cat” on my website from years ago. Even she knew I needed this!) The Christian life is a life of full surrender. What follows turning your life over to the Lord? Grace, mercy, peace, and the blessings that flow from obedience. “I surrender all,” the old hymn says. Once we do, the power of the Holy Spirit gives us the strength to be disciplined in all areas of our lives if we will only tap into it. Then we can live with purpose, and reap the benefits for ourselves and others.
This blog post is a pep talk to myself for 2019. But what about you? “With me it’s all er nuthin’. Is it all er nuthin’ with you?”