Posted by: abbiewatters | March 31, 2014


Tomorrow is April Fools Day, and rather than post my One Word for the month and have y’all think I’m pulling your leg, I thought I’d best get it out of the way now.

What did I “Provide” in March?


  • I was a voice of organization and practicality as we (the Hospitality and Outreach Team – HOT) at church worked with the Christian Education team to figure out what we are going to do on Easter. The final decision was to have an Easter Potluck Brunch while the kids hunted eggs before Worship. (I know that doesn’t sound like much, but we are talking a four-day, email debate between 8 or more people.) I think we accommodated everyone’s wishes and all seem to be happy.


  • I provided a “calming influence” to a newbie knitter, who is a perfectionist, and always concerned that he is making a mistake. (His original teacher is away in Hawaii for the month – AWWWW).
  • I gathered and distributed a contact list for Pierce County Hunger Advocates using the attendees at the symposium the first of the month.
  • I shared Lenten blogs and inspirational posts on hunger, clean water, and prayers on the Facebook page for Pierce County Hunger and on our Adult Sunday School Facebook group.


  • I babysat for one of the pastor’s twins while she was at the hospital caring for the other twin. (It was no hardship to rock and cuddle a 2-month-old for an afternoon.)
  • I participated weekly in the fledgling Toastmasters Group we are forming here at Tobey Jones.
  • I kept up with my diet, providing detailed lists of foods eaten, and exercises performed to my counselor.

I’m not sure I remember anything else, but I do know that I feel totally busy, and fulfilled. And I think I’m keep my eyes focused outward to see what I can do for others, as well as for myself.

photo credits: Flickr Creative Commons and Sarah Wiles Facebook Page

Posted by: abbiewatters | March 29, 2014

Note to Self


When the car says “Low Key Battery” and dings after you turn it off – BELIEVE IT!

Ran to the grocery store at noon to pick up some fruit and hamburger buns. Car started just fine when I left the house, it had no problem locking the car, but when I came out 15 minutes later the FOB was deader than a doornail.

Big Al had to call a neighbor to run him down to the Safeway parking lot, so he could open the car and drive me and the groceries home.

Immediately after lunch we went to the Toyota dealer and had a new battery put in my FOB.


Posted by: abbiewatters | March 26, 2014

Sacred Dawdling

Capture(This is the transcript of a speech I gave at Toastmasters yesterday.)

One of the benefits of living here at Franke Tobey Jones is the opportunity to be informed and entertained during sessions of Senior University. Last week we heard from an Occupational Therapist about Mindfulness and Mental Health. According to studies, mindfulness can help with many of the mental risk factors that affect us as older adults.

You are probably saying to yourself “Just what is Mindfulness, anyway?”

In the simplest definition, Mindfulness is slowing down and noticing what is going on around and within you.


  • increases gray matter,
  • improves psychological functions such as attention, compassion and empathy,
  • lifts the mood,
  • decreases stress chemicals in the body,
  • strengthens the immune system,
  • and helps with a variety of medical conditions including cardiovascular disease, asthma, and type II diabetes, to name a few.

Mindfulness really can be practiced by observing your breath, your breathing rate, and your thoughts.



Let go

You may have heard it called mindfulness, meditation, centering prayer, or – as Sue Monk likes to call it – Sacred Dawdling.

My blogger friend, Caroline, says, “Dawdling as sacred? Really?

“It is sacred, because it’s an act of faith. To stop work, be unproductive, and simply look out into the day…this requires trust.”

You may remember I mentioned my quiet time that I take care to observe every morning after my shower when I sit on the side of my bed, look out the window at the trees in the copse behind the fence, and let my mind drift.

“For a time, I forget the forces and the shoulds and should nots. For a time, I just…am. I’m just me.”

After 15 or 20 minutes of just sitting there, I’m ready to get on with my day. You may be saying, “but I don’t have TIME for this.” I feel like I don’t have time, not to meditate.

Another blogger friend, Esther, has been going through a bad patch recently. She reported that her BFF had recently told her “Meditate, Esther – do meditate.” Her friend’s heart cried out GET THAT FRIEND OF YOURS SOME PEACE! She needs it.

Some days it takes what seems like FOREVER to quiet the monkey brain chatter going on in my head. I often wake up with a hymn in my head – an earworm, if you will. I don’t usually sing it out loud, but I sing it all the way through while I sit there. I will also mentally go through all the moves of the Tai Chi form we are currently working on.

Caroline says, “When I sit still like this, there are two forces battling within me.

  • One says, ‘This is important. This is what you need right now. Stillness is going to bring you farther than constant motion ever could.’
  • The other says, ‘What are you doing? Get off your butt! Be productive! Contribute to society!’”

If all else fails, I fall back on one or more visualization techniques I learned in centering prayer. I particularly like the image of floating down a river lying in a canoe with dappled shade passing over my closed eyes. If a thought comes into my head, I just toss it away. Another favorite image is of the surf, endlessly rolling in, and receding, and I breathe in stillness and breathe out worry with the surf, as the waves come in and go out.

Esther asked, “How much energy do I actually spend, worrying? How much energy do I actually spend, rushing? How much more efficient would my life be, if I were always to rest, before I rush?”

Every day we meet the critical, worried part of ourselves that judges our ‘Performance” minute by minute.

“This is an act of rebellion: to endure time, to quiet your hands, to live peace instead of war. It’s harder than it sounds. But sometimes I think this is the simplest and greatest call there is.”

With practice in the art of sacred dawdling – just 5 minutes here, 10 minutes there – we will be better equipped to understand the value of Einstein’s words,

“Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted.”

Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons


Posted by: abbiewatters | March 17, 2014


For several years I went on float trips on the Buffalo River in Northwest Arkansas. I took groups of church campers, and I know that Girl Scout troops and Boy Scout troops also canoe on the Buffalo. It’s a small river, just 150 miles in length. It was the first river to be designated a National River, and, as such, it is overseen by the National Park Service.

According to Wikipedia, “The National River designation protects natural rivers from industrial uses, impoundments and other obstructions that may change the natural character of the river or disrupt the natural habitat for the flora and fauna that live in or near the river.” I remember some of the political arguments and bickering before it was declared a National River. It is the last free-flowing (undammed) stream in Arkansas.


Yesterday, in Sunday School, we were talking about Girl Scouts, and the recently ended cookie sale, and someone began talking about old camp songs. Someone brought up “Peace I Ask of Thee, O River,” and I was immediately transported back to the Buffalo.

(If I’ve given you an earworm, you can thank me later.)

photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons


Posted by: abbiewatters | March 6, 2014

Lent 2014

I haven’t decided on any one particular Lenten discipline for this year. I’ve seen many ideas in the blogs I read on a daily basis and all of them seem good, but none has really “grabbed” me. Probably because I’m already so focused on deliberate eating with my weight-loss diet. I am, quite frankly, almost overwhelmed with the mental energy, as well as the physical energy, it is taking to avoid certain foods and to be sure to eat other foods. Not to mention the 50 minutes (minimum) of exercise required at least 5 days a week.


From time to time, I will be pointing out some of the especially convicting blog posts I run across.

Like today, at 40 Days to Food Justice (you can sign up at the site to get their devotional sent to you daily by email or RSS feed) – the post really rang true for me, because I’ve found that the most difficult part of my diet is the TIME it takes – planning menus and snacks, shopping for fresh food, and preparing the meals. Since I’ve not been allowed to “grab an Atkins Bar” if it’s time to eat, I really have to think about what, and when I’m eating. Even something as simple as remembering to get something out of the freezer in time to cook it can be a mental strain.

And, back to the exercise, this blog is suffering because the hour to hour and a half I spend at the Wellness Center is the time I used to spend writing for you, my faithful readers.

So, I suppose my Lenten discipline for this year will be to concentrate on my diet, and to be thankful I have the money to spend on healthy food, wonderful health insurance that allows me to visit a doctor and dietician weekly, and enough TIME to properly shop for and prepare the healthy food that is so necessary in this quest.

photo credit: Flickr creative commons

Posted by: abbiewatters | March 1, 2014


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

February was spent getting ready to host a gathering concerned with food insecurity here in Pierce County, Washington. It was held this morning, March 1, and I believe it was a success. At least I hope so.

One of the groups that I’ve been significantly involved in is Pierce County Hunger Advocates (if you haven’t “Liked” the page on Facebook, quit reading right now and go do it. I’ll wait).

We began as a local chapter of Bread for the World, and have since expanded to partner with Fish Food Banks of Pierce County, WA.

The steering committee, of which I am a member, has sponsored training sessions for representatives of various churches in the county, so they could conduct an Offering of Letters in their congregations. We have also visited the food bank locations and registered voters, so that those in need could advocate for themselves. Bread for the World was one of the leading voices in helping change the Farm Bill to minimize the cuts to SNAP (formerly Food Stamps). We didn’t get everything we wanted (still $8 billion in cuts over 5 years), but at least it wasn’t the original $20 billion.

Beth Elliott, the Executive Director of Fish Food Banks, was one of the speakers this morning. We learned that over 1,500,000 people visited various food banks in Pierce County, last year. Fish Food Bank, itself, served over 560.000.

We also heard from Matt Newell-Ching, the regional director for Bread for the World. We heard about this year’s focus, which is to streamline and improve international Food Aid. You can read about it on the Bread for the World web-site.

Our featured speaker was the Honorable Derek Kilmer, US House of Representatives, 6th District. He brought us up to date of the status of food aid internationally, the need for an adjustment to food aid in the United States, the pending immigration reform bill, and other matters happening in Washington, DC. He told us that the State of Washington ranks 15th in food insecurity in the country. He also spent time answering questions from the audience, and was very forthcoming about what we can and should expect from our representatives and senators.

By PROVIDING education to a group of people, and empowering them with facts to address some of the most pressing problems regarding food insecurity, I think I am doing my part.

Posted by: abbiewatters | February 26, 2014

Real Diet News

If you remember, I began this diet journey on January 14, with an “indoctrination” appointment with the dietician and the doctor. You can read about that here. At this point my daily menus consisted of two servings of protein (150 cal each), one serving of beans (110 cal each), one serving of nuts (100 cal each), at least 5 vegetables (more if desired), one serving vegetable starch (45 cal each – that’s 1/2 a potato), two fruit servings a day (80 cal each), 1 grain (1/2 cup of cereal or 1 piece of whole wheat bread – 75-100 cal), four tsp oil (40 cal each), 2 servings “Medical Food” (Atkins bars were cheaper than the stuff they sold at the hospital), 1 cup coffee or tea, unsweetened – except with Stevia, then only one packet a day, and all the spices, herbs, lemon or lime, mustard, horseradish, etc. I wanted. I also was required to eat about 1300 calories a day, and eat something every 2-3 hours. Breakfast at 8:00, snack at 10:30, lunch at 1:00, snack at 4:00, supper at 7:00, snack at 10:00 (all times approximate). It worked pretty well when I could carry an Atkins bar to church in the morning, or to an afternoon meeting.

Oh, yeah, I had to drink at least 64 oz. of water every day.

Through this whole thing both the doctor and the dietician have been advocating exercise, in addition to the diet, so I faithfully put in 3-4 sessions of 50 minutes a session on the recumbent cross trainer, and 2 sessions of Tai Chi for 50 minutes, every single week.

One week later I met again with the dietician and doctor, and told y’all about it here. (I had lost 2.5 lbs.) On January 28, after being almost pathological about sticking strictly to the diet, I had lost 1 more pound. I was just about ready to throw the baby out with the bath water at that point. I talked about some of my woes trying to feed me in a diet-friendly way, and still feed Big Al what he wants here. That was February 1st, and then I basically went quiet.

What happened was the doctor and dietician took away all my grains, and all my beans, and all my potatoes! I was pretty rebellious at that point, but the doctor said, “Try this for one week, just as a proof of concept,” so I did. And when I went in for my appointment on February 4, I had lost 8 pounds!

The dietician suggested that I keep up the exercise, because it was obviously helping, and add some strength/resistance work, which I did.

I was pumped! I stuck to the diet religiously the next week, kept exercising regularly including strength training, and when I went for my appointment on February 11, I had only lost one more pound. Gloom, despair, and agony! Not pleased with my lack of progress, the doctor and dietician took away all my fruit except berries and cut them back to one serving a day, and told me to eliminate my Atkins Bars. (I was really POed at that, because those things aren’t cheap, and I had just bought enough from Amazon to stock a small grocery store, because by buying that much I could save significantly (25-40 cents a bar.)) Part of my rebellion at this point was the real difficulty in finding something easily portable to take to church for the morning snack, or to bridge, when I went from there to a meeting, for an afternoon snack.

My dietician was away at a conference or something last week, and I soldiered on without having any feedback from the doctor or dietician.

That brings me to the second part of the story. Back in the fall of 2013 my potassium levels were elevated, and my GP became concerned enough to refer me to a Nephrologist. The earliest appointment I could get was for January 21. I met with him and he ordered a whole plethora of blood tests, and an ultra sound of my kidneys. I was scheduled for an follow-up appointment on February 18. He talked to me and said all the problems that were there in the fall were gone, and I was fine, except my sodium levels were too low. I was drinking too much water! I should cut my water back to 6 glasses a day, and, oh, by the way, here’s a diet you should follow. And he proceeded to give me a diet that said to limit meat, and oils, and eats lots of grains, and, just for good measure, don’t eat any asparagus, spinach, mushrooms, or red meat!

At that point, I saluted smartly, said, “Yes, Sir,” thanked him, and left. His diet and instructions were the total antithesis of the diet I was on – and doing reasonably well with. I decided not to make any changes until I had talked to my diet doctor.

So, yesterday, I was back with my doctor and my dietician, and, lo and behold, I had lost another 7.5 pounds bringing my total to 20 pounds in 6 weeks.  I told them what the nephrologist had said. I also told them to fight it out with him, and let me know the outcome, but until they told me differently, I would stick with what they were selling. So my diet doctor is now monitoring my blood tests to make sure I keep my numbers where they should be, and we decided I don’t need to be so pathological about avoiding salt. I’m also allowed to have an Atkins bar if I want it on days I work out! And maybe I can have poached eggs on toast occasionally, if I’m really careful of my carbs the rest of the day.

Life is good!

I’ve found really good chicken sausage at Trader Joe’s in several flavors – I particularly like the spicy Italian, and the spicy jalapeno. I can have either one or two eggs for breakfast every morning with a sausage link. For afternoon snacks, I can have a whole Hass avocado with some salsa when I’m home. I’ve rediscovered broccoli, yellow squash, three colors of bell peppers, mustard greens and turnip greens, and mushrooms, none of which Big Al will eat. These are all things I’ve always liked, but never bothered to fix because I didn’t want to do two meals. Today I fixed cucumbers and onions in vinegar and was transported to my childhood summer at my grandmother’s house.

So that’s the saga so far. I’m taking this diet as it comes, and trying not to be impatient. My (secret) goal is to lose 130 pounds by my birthday in August, but if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay, too. Right now I weigh less than I’ve weighed since 2009, so that’s progress.

Posted by: abbiewatters | February 25, 2014

Diet Update

I know I’ve been really lax about keeping y’all up to date on my diet progress, and I promise I’ll do a long post tomorrow (first day in a couple of weeks that I’m not out of the house for at least 7 hours – and I think I’m retired?).

Anyway, I went to the clinic this morning and I have lost 20 pounds in 6 weeks!

Sorry, I just had to brag!

Whoop! Whoop!

Posted by: abbiewatters | February 1, 2014


As you may remember, my one word for the year is “Provide”.

As you also may remember, I finally decided to do something about my weight. To that end, I am enrolled in a medically supervised weight loss program, that I’ve written about here, here and here.

The major way I’m providing during this period is by trying to be sure Big Al is eating. He is unimpressed with the vegetables that are the basis of this diet. He is also dedicated to things like


red beans and rice with sausages,


and bratwurst with sauerkraut and little red potatoes.

I probably don’t need to tell you that the doctor and the dietician visibly paled when I suggested either of these meals. To them, sausages are, by definition, highly processed, loaded with salt (and don’t even mention the salt content of sauerkraut) and generally POISON!

Consequently, I’ve been fixing meals that I have to eat and he’s beginning to look a little sad at meal times. So I PROVIDE him with occasional comfort food. For the most part, he’s been a pretty good sport about it, but he almost rebelled today when I presented him with broiled fish, asparagus, and broccoli. He refused the broccoli, and I gave him a can of corn, so he’s a little happier.

It’s best I can do for him right now, and he has admitted he’s lost a couple of pounds, even while consuming an entire bag of barbecued potato chips in one sitting.

It’s a pain to cook two meals, but I do it occasionally, because I’ve promised to try to PROVIDE this year.

photo credits: Flickr creative commons

and Flickr creative commons

Posted by: abbiewatters | January 25, 2014

An Open Letter to Pastor Ed Young of Fellowship Church

Dear Pastor Young,

Your church is in Dallas. I have not lived in Dallas for almost 2 years. Even if I wanted to, I would not be able to come to hear your new series, beginning tomorrow.

I really don’t appreciate your phone calls on Saturday morning. Unfortunately your robo-dial system just sees my area code and calls me, although I am now on the West Coast. So when you call at the “reasonable” hour of 10:00 am Central Time, it is really too early for a Saturday morning at 8:00 am Pacific Time.

Perhaps you need to rethink your “evangelism and outreach” initiatives from now on. Church is not about butts in the pews – it’s about community, and getting to know people. Taped telephone messages might let me get to know you, but it obviously doesn’t let you get to know me.

I am perfectly happy with my own church, and what you are doing is closer to sheep-stealing than evangelism.


A sleepy recipient of your calls


For any of the rest of you churchy-type people who think robo-dialers might be a good idea, let me discourage you – DON’T!

And please, if any of my gentle readers live in Dallas or the surrounding area and know/know of Pastor Ed Young, would you tell him his calls are doing more harm than good.

Thank you!

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