I’m Stephen The Sailorman

As I have mentioned once or twice (oh alright then incessantly) in previous posts I have been struggling all summer with a viral infection which had effectively knocked me for six. In addition to chest and ear problems I was also living under a cloud of fatigue which refused to budge no matter what antibiotic or multivitamin I was prescribed. At one point I was popping so many pills that if you had shaken me I would have rattled like a baby’s toy.

This resulted in a number of visits to my doctor’s surgery where I was poked, prodded and eventually pierced. Blood samples were taken (I was a brave little soldier when the needle went in) and I was told to contact them the following week to get the results. As I was by this stage starting to feel better and back at work I promptly forgot all about it until I received a phone call at work earlier this week from a concerned sounding Fionnuala. ‘The surgery called. Your blood results are back. They want you to phone them.’

Having diagnosed myself as fit and well again my over active imagination of course went in hyperdrive conjuring up the worst possible case scenario as I nervously punched the numbers of the surgery into my mobile phone. By the time I got through to the results line I had convinced myself that I had the Ebola virus or, at the bare minimum, a rare blood disorder that would ensure I never saw Christmas. I was relieved therefore to hear the receptionist assure me at the very outset that the results were in but it was nothing to worry about.

She informed me that my folic acid levels were low and I was being prescribed a four month supplement to bring them back up to normal. I was slightly bemused by this as my only awareness of folic acid prior to that had been that women trying for a baby took it in order to minimise the child being born with certain physical disabilities. My ignorance of the subject was such that I did not know that the human body (and in particular the male body) even produced it. Every day is a learning day.

Upon terminating the call I fell back upon good old Dr. Google to learn a bit more about folic acid. Apparently it was naturally present in a whole host of foodstuffs – rice (check), pasta (yup I eat loads of that), bread (oh this is so easy) and dark green, leafy vegetables. Hang on, run that last one past me again? My eyes scanned down the list in question. Broccoli (manageable), Brussel Sprouts (I would rather eat hot coals) and spinach. Spinach? What like Popeye the Sailorman. Is that even a real food? 


Apparently it was. I glumly accepted the inevitable like a condemned man on his final walk to the gallows. My immediate future was going to contain lots of unsexy food. Lots and lots of unsexy green food. My spirits lifted somewhat when I realised that (a) you did not have to eat the spinach raw, (b) it did not involve squeezing it out of a can and guzzling it all in one go whilst laughing maniacally and (c) the aforementioned guzzling did not have to take place while dressed in dodgy nautical attire and smoking a pipe.

When it comes to cartoon characters I had always modelled myself more on Homer Simpson tbsp Popeye. And I most definitely would rather be consuming donuts as opposed to spinach. Why is it that all the tasty food is bad for you yet all the healthy stuff tastes like soggy seaweed. But needs must and I was willing to do whatever it took to ensure that those pesky folic acid levels soared again. I never wanted to revisit the summer that was; one of phlegmy coughs, aching ears and levels of fatigue that had driven me to the end of my tether.  

The spinach analogy can be applied to my life in general. All the activities that I revelled in were ultimately bad for me physically, mentally and spiritually. Alcohol, social media and unhealthy relationships to name but a few. I craved them like Homer craves a box of chocolate frosted donuts. So satisfying at the time but long term they only lead to ridiculous cholesterol levels and ever expanding waistlines. I was heading in that direction with regards to my family and faith. It took several harsh wake up calls to bring me to my senses again.

Spinach sounds boring. It sounds tasteless and hard to stomach. Just like some mornings when I get up and I can’t be bothered with the kid’s petty arguments; or I stumble out of bed dreading the prospect of spending another eight hours chained to my desk at work. These seemingly mundane chores may seem a pain  when there are so many other ‘fun’ activities we could be participating in. But at the end of the day they are the bread and butter of our lives. They will form the backbone of who we are and the legacy that we want to leave behind us. It might not be appear the most glamorous of lifestyles but the long term benefits far outweigh the short term pain. 

Sometimes you just have to suck it up. All that glitters is not gold. The real miracles are in the everyday grind. So I pray. I pick up my Bible and study. That might not rock your boat but you do need some kind of anchor in order to keep your ship on an even keel. All I can say is that after forty years of  running aground that my faith works for me. Whatever tools you decide upon I encourage you to do your utmost to remain rooted to the key values and morals that define your being. Because whatever your belief system the demons are real and are never far away, waiting to pounce at the first sign of weakness.

Seek out what  you need not what you desire. And always remember to eat your greens.

What are your thoughts on this post?

What everyday things keep you focused and on an even keel?

Do you love your greens? Or do they turn you green?

23 thoughts on “I’m Stephen The Sailorman

Add yours

  1. Loved the post. I love greens….I actually can’t think of a veggie I don’t like. The things that keep me in a even keel are going to the gym, reading and tea before I go to bed, and trying to do something cultural/educational/fun at least once a week. I’m also a little bit of a scheduling, organizing nut…..but it keeps me sane!

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  2. What I do is throw in spinach in chicken or beef soup. Absolutely tasteless! Texture is lovely and soft slurped down together with the soup. I recommended this to my friend’s daughter who abhors vegs and she has no problem slurping it down 🙂

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  3. Such an enjoyable post to read! I like plain spinach leaves as substitution for lettuce in a salad (though my salad toppings aren’t always the healthiest, but eh…give a little, take a little) Your grimace of spinach made my day 🙂

    I had blood work done, and freaked out when I received a call to call back the office, and it was the same! No issues. Like, guys can you please just tell me everything is fine?

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      1. I know with my writer friends they do this and push for harder goals than what I do. But I always see them get discouraged, busy, change ideas, etc. I cant tell you how many times I’ve seen them work on a new idea but fall through not even halfway through. I started to work on outline, basic summary of what I want to happen with this newest novel because I want it to be a book, and structure is very important. But don’t get caught up on having every detail right 🙂 you can definitely be inspired as you go too. I do not do a word target. Instead, my daily goal is one full single spaced page. If I am really struggling that day, I push myself to do a half singled spaced page. Dahl, the writer behind Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and Matilda suggested to work through the blank parts and when you have reached the point you know what to write next, that’s when you stop for the day because you know where to begin, instead of frustration. Hope that helps!!! 🙂 These are tips I use.

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          1. Awesome!!! I’ll be starting to write my novel again, hopefully within the next week, and I’m sure I’ll be inspired to write more about writing. 🙂 For some writers, words just fly. Sometimes it’s because you know what you want to write, when you reach a wall, it gets a little harder. Know your plot, and make your plot/problem for the story clear in the beginning too. That way both the reader and characters know what the issue is. This problem can lead to the main, hidden problem, of the novel, but make sure the structure is there in the beginning. Peace be with you!

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  4. I do like spinach on pizza and in soup sounds good. I’m glad nothing serious was wrong. I adore salads, but vinegar makes me have pain (I have fibromyalgia), so I use cream cheese blended with water as a dressing. I’m with you on brussel sprouts.

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    1. Hi Sophie – I read some of your posts just to get a feel for your story. I lost my father to prostate cancer seven years ago so I can empathise with the pain you have felt. I also started running to help cope with the loss. I have run 6 marathons and raised money for a number of charities. So my first piece of advice is keep running. It does help both physically and mentally. 🏃🏻

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    2. I have only been blogging for three months so am no expert but would advice that you blog regularly and develop a consistent message. I try to post every day and combine humour with seriousness in order to write about topics close to my heart. Always be yourself and write from the heart. Use hashtags to target the audience you want and interact with other bloggers to encourage them, learn from them and become part of the community. I wish you well and am looking forward to following your journey – Stephen 😊

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  5. Enjoyed your post, as usual! Something that keeps me physically on a even keel is working out/dancing, so I can imagine what it was like this summer when you couldn’t really run. To spiritually stay on an even keel, I have to pray and let God speak to me, because it’s not a one way conversation (or shouldn’t be). I also love greens; I’ve been called a rabbit before, lol, and I am the person who is happy to see the veggie and ranch platter at a potluck! I’m glad nothing very serious was going on. I have been praying for you!

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  6. There are many different ways to include spinach in your diet. My own dear hubby hated it. So I included it in my soups and casseroles. Someone once told me to put it in brownies. Have not tried it that way. I am not a huge veggie eater so have learned how to hide veggies in food but always keeping it healthy. Good luck. :).

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