Learning About Blogging

Are blogs too long?

I’m learning a bit about format in these past three days of writing and posting things to this blog. I write the blog in Microsoft Word, so when I’m typing it up, it just looks like a word document. When I’m typing away, I’m aware that I shouldn’t write too much, that when people write too much, I tend to scroll and skim a while. If it’s too long, I’ll just exit out of it. This has to do with my ever-shortening attention span, but it I think it also has to do with the device we are using. A 700 word document, like my Day 3 – Whole 30 blog, doesn’t look long on a laptop screen, but on a phone? Scrolling and scrolling.

It’s an interesting thing to learn. If I pick up a book about grace, I’m expecting to settle in and play the long game of learning what the author has to say. But, if I click on a friend’s blog entry about grace, my brain is not ready to sit around and deeply process it…not if I’m on my phone, that is.

So, where is the balance? If one has a crush on words, one may tend to spill too many on any given page. But, then, this is not Twitter. No one expects a blogger to truncate every thought and avoid metaphors because they take up unnecessary space. I think I’ll try some different lengths in the coming days. It may be very hard to keep it short – but it will be good practice.

Day 3 – Whole 30

I am completely astonished at how little I am struggling at this point. I had expected headaches and crankiness, but I feel fine. I am also completely aware that could change tomorrow. But, I’m grateful for the ease of the first three days.

Today, I tried some new things in the kitchen.

I did pork ribs in the crockpot. Like that’s pretty much the whole instruction. I sprinkled on a BBQ rub I have from Penzy’s spices (kind of my favorite company right now) that doesn’t have sugar in it. (There’s an assignment for you – go find a mix of spices intended as a rub for pork anything that doesn’t include sugar. Just kidding. You don’t have to go do that. It’s not a real assignment, but if it were…you’d struggle and gnash your teeth, I tell you!)

So, I sprinkled on a spice mix from a jar, then put the ribs in the crock pot and turned the knob to low. 8 hours later, I came back to fall-off-the-bone delicious ribs. Fancy people would put them under the broiler with a bunch of (sugary) sauce, but since I didn’t add any water, they had a nice crust on them right out of the crock pot! What?! So easy.

Also, I made ketchup. Yep. I made my own. Heinz ketchup (catsup?) and the like are off limits this month because they contain sugar or corn syrup. There is a recipe in the Whole 30 cookbook for ketchup that looks more like a Heinz 57 steak sauce kind of thing. It’s probably good, but it’s not for my hash browns in the morning. So, I found a recipe online that includes some dates for sweetness. Purebred Whole 30-ers would balk at that, but I’m no purebred anything, so I boiled and blended and made a terrific ketchup! Whole 30 or not, it was kind of cool to make a new thing.

I also made date paste, which sounds delicious, doesn’t it? If you come over, I’ll serve you some date paste – but not on a cracker; I can’t have crackers. So, just probably on a celery stalk or something awesome like that. Okay, so it is just equal parts hot water and chopped dates blended til super smooth. It’s like a super smooth apple butter, I’d say. This is also not a purebred deal, but I’ll tell you what it does for me: if I mix 6 tablespoons almond butter to 1 tablespoon date paste, I have an incredibly satisfying bowl of dreams to spread on celery. It’s so dessert-y!

Now, here’s how I feel about not being a purebred Whole 30-er. I know it’s only day 3 and I’m making date paste and ketchup, and yesterday I confessed that I am purposefully including extra fruit in my diet these first few days. 3 days ago, I was drinking embarrassing amounts of Pepsi, eating crackers for breakfast in the car, and scooping up bowls of chocolate ice cream with my daughter in the evening. If I can successfully eat whole foods, cook (and clean up!) all my meals every day, avoid dairy, grains, legumes, additives, refined sugar and all its hidden buddies, and drink only tea or water – my body wins. And if it takes some ground up dates to make it through, to make me say things like “date paste is so dessert-y,” then dates will remain on my shopping list. And my assignment is to buy them without dripping with guilt. Eating dates is one of the ways I’m being gentle with myself this month. (This would tickle my Gram, who always had bags and bags of dates in the bottom drawer of her refrigerator. She would love that I am eating dates, but mostly she would love that I’m being gentle with myself.)

Wild Berry Zinger tea is going to get me through this. Date paste is helpful, but Wild Berry Zinger tea is likely going to be the MVP of this whole game (or maybe it’s a season or a tournament – my sports analogies always sparkle with great accuracy). I’m brewing 2 quarts of this stuff a day, and today I put frozen berries in it…and a straw for some snazziness. No lie, I would LOVE to dump some sugar in the next batch, but I won’t.

Day 2 – Whole 30

Woke up this morning feeling fine. No headache or fogginess from a day without sugar or chemicals. Now, I just need to do that 29 more times.

I really am feeling so wary of failing at this. The voice in my heart-head keeps reminding me of all the schemes and plans and schedules I have implemented only to quickly cast them aside by forgetting or not caring enough. Maybe this is why I have started this blog, and maybe this is why I named it what I did. I am very good at reminding others to be gentle with themselves, but it seems like I can’t hear my own voice when I say it. So, I’m going to try to be gentle with me as I do this hard thing. No, this is not hard like chemo or divorce or whatever, but changing long-held habits while my body is physically craving my old habits…it’s hard. So, maybe a little verbal pat on the back is in order: Jennifer, you and 48 have planned and prepared loads of nutritious meals for you and your daughter. Good for you for investing time, money, and intention in this food experiment.

Thanks, Jennifer!

Today, I learned: I went to lunch with Daniel, as I do nearly every Tuesday. I honestly almost canceled it because I keep reading that it’s kind of too hard to eat in restaurants during Whole 30, but I knew Daniel would just giggle while I ordered an odd meal after asking one million questions, so I decided to go.

You know when I walk a mile in someone’s shoes, I am always humbled. Today, it was my turn to be the one at the table who was scanning the menu for something I could easily order, not look too crazy with my questions, and actually enjoy eating. A salad was the easy answer…but dressings so often contain sugar or other additives, so I asked about the vinaigrette, and she said she would ask in the kitchen for me. But, it was a really nice burger joint, and I’m having lots of salads at home, so I asked if the burger had a lot of seasonings in it, and in that seasoning mix, might there be sugar (like I found in my Penzy’s Steak Seasoning at home)? She assured me that the seasonings were not mixed into the meat, but added when cooking, so I could have a fabulous hamburger patty with my own shakes of salt. “Oh, and also…do you have a steamed veggie for on the side? One with no sauce or anything on it, not cooked in butter or anything?” She was so patient, and I found my brows furrowing more as I asked each question, shaking my head side to side with apologies dripping from my lips all over the table where my water (not Pepsi) was sitting and sweating – like me.

Dear Friends Who Have to Ask Lots of Questions Just to Keep Yourself Healthy,

I get it now, and I won’t giggle (unless you are). I will not roll my eyes, and I will recognize that even having the eye-roll reaction means I have not walked enough “meals” in your shoes. It means I’m not loving you well. But, I’m learning this month. I promise I’m tucking these lessons in my pocket for days when I need them.

Love, Jennifer (and 48)

Day 1 – Whole 30

So, I turned 48 last week, and 48 and I have been doing some honest talk. We decided it was time to look into some health issues we’ve been tolerating for …well, I don’t know how long because these things kind of sneak up on you. But, I haven’t slept through the night in years unless I’ve taken a sleeping pill – which I don’t like to do because I’m a pastor, and if someone calls me at 3:00 to say there’s been an accident and people are scared and sad and need their pastor, I do not want to miss that call. Also, I’m getting some pretty solid arthritis pain, and 48 and I are pretty sure we’re a bit young for that. So, we decided to try Whole 30 (Google it or see the “Health” tab on this site.)

I have never blogged. I’m trying it now. I’ll just chronicle my Whole 30 days, and see if I like blogging.  Here we go: Day 1

I woke up nervous because today is the first day of thirty-days-in-a-row that I am expecting myself to have will power. I know myself pretty well, so I’m pretty sure this is not going to go as planned. Mostly because I’m not good at planning, so…

The first thing I did was go get my bloodwork done, so I can have some data to look at in the end. I also weighed myself and took some “before” pictures. This is not a diet, no counting calories, no significant portion control. Whole foods that are not known to cause inflammation for one month. That’s what Sage and 48 and I are doing. So, some of my before pictures have nothing to do with my size or shape. I took a picture of my tongue (it’s bumpy and sensitive), my face close up, (so I can note any changes to my middle-aged-teenager-acne), how far my arthritic fingers can currently bend, and things like that. I made some notes about sleep patterns and headaches and such.

I ate a lot today. Seriously, I ate and ate: eggs, an apple, an orange, great-big-salad-with-chicken-and-kind-of-a-ranchy-dressing, chicken soup, celery and almond butter, applesauce, almond milk, and about a gallon of tea.

Now, we are supposed to be limiting fruit because it has a lot of natural sugar, but I’ve made an executive decision that my previous (practically-intravenous) use of Pepsi means my body will need some extra sugar these first few days in order to adjust.


Every single meal uses lots of tools and pans…way more than a frozen pizza takes, anyway.  (and yes, that is a pile of bacon on the cutting board)

I learned: Shopping, chopping, cooking, storing, and cleaning up takes oceans of time. I felt a little frustrated that my whole day off was spent in the kitchen (though I enjoy cooking), and there was so much clean up.

But, it made me think of my grandmothers…in their kitchens, in their gardens, at their markets. It’s only day one, and this experiment has brought me to the farmhouses in Maddock, ND and Gary, MN where my strong, industrious grandmothers grew, cooked, and served whole foods to their families. This is a very tender beginning to 30 days of learning (and perhaps, remembering) who 48 and I am.

Be Gentle With You

My mind is pretty jumbly. It sometimes helps if I write things down. I could do that in a paper journal — but then I’ve done that eleventy times before. If you need a journal that is nearly empty but for the first 7 or 8 pages, I’m your girl.  So, maybe this kind of journaling will be better for me, OR maybe I’ll forget how to log in and leave this journal in the same pattern of the others…