Category Archives: It’s personal

Learning Curves

and Earning Curves.

Curves2 About a month ago, I decided that eating right and losing weight wasn’t enough to make me healthy, so I started doing something I haven’t done in at least twenty-five years.

I started working out regularly. Five days a week. Yes, you read that right. Robin, the queen of avoiding exercise, is paying to work out.Curves3

That’s one of my cute little coaches checking out my progress at the laptop. (Curves has machines that spy on you and report back to the coaches. Very 1984.) I want to look like her. Can they make me lose about forty years?

My workouts take between 45 and 50 minutes and consist of 30 seconds on each machine, 30 seconds of aerobic motion between machines, and stretches. I do the entire circle twice, and all the major muscle groups are involved. The final machine tells me my workout is over by flashing “END.” How’s that for propping up a weak short-term memory?

CurvesHere are my results from Thursday. Green dots are great, yellow dots are okay but not great, and red dots are BAD. (Sort of like the colors on traffic lights, but I digress.)

And now for the life lessons.

  1. I have to pay for workouts to be properly motivated to do them. It’s just like everything else. We don’t usually fully appreciate anything that has cost us nothing.
  2. Most of the time, lack of progress is my own fault. My first two weeks of working out, I made very little headway. I wasn’t sore afterwards, and I didn’t sweat. At first, I thought the machines were too easy, but then I realized maybe, just maybe, the problem was me. I started pushing harder for range of motion and more reps. Guess what? I had no trouble working up a sweat, and I was plenty sore. It wasn’t the machines. IT WAS ME. Just like in every other aspect of life, when I have a difficulty, I should examine myself first.
  3. The harder I work, the more I achieve. Though music is my strongest intelligence, I didn’t learn to play the piano really well until I began to practice regularly. (Props to Austen’s Lady Catherine on this one. She was right.) I don’t succeed at anything without putting effort into it.
  4. Sometimes, good intentions aren’t enough. I thought I was doing everything right at Curves, but all my muscle groups weren’t sore. My abdomen wasn’t sore at all. I started paying more attention to the muscles which were supposed to be worked at specific machines. I isolated them and focused on using them, adjusting my body until I felt them. Guess what? It worked. My sore abdomen can attest to it.
  5. Don’t jump to conclusions. A few days ago, I noticed a lump on my arm and nearly freaked out, thinking it was a tumor. Then I realized it was a muscle! I hadn’t seen a defined muscle anywhere on my body in years. I’m flexing now!

Here’s some encouragement for you, lovely readers. Set your goals and go for them.

You can do it!


Don’t Give Up

Never count me out . . .

I am famously stubborn. My family and friends (and a few frenemies) will attest to that fact. However, the past year was so difficult that I couldn’t think well enough to write. It took all my concentration just to do the things which were required by my jobs.

During the past couple of weeks, I have received encouragement from an unexpected source: my neglected plants.

Last November, I put most of my plants in the garage, but I watered them hardly at all until a week ago. This poor arrowhead philodendron seemed completely lifeless, but look at it now. I cut away all that had died, put it on the back porch, watered it often, and voilà!

The same is true of this poor pothos plant.

The spider plants are recovering as well.

The fact that I returned the plants to the back and front porches shows that I had not completely given up on them. I hoped there was a spark of life there, so I nurtured it. I gave it what it needed: sunlight and water.

God does that with us. My life verse is Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ Who strengthens me.”

When I am ready to quit, God gives me what I need. He gives me strength. He nurtures me.

II Corinthians 5:7 says, “We live by faith, not by sight.” What a breath-taking statement! Had I gone by the appearance of the plants, I would have thrown them out, thinking they were dead. They weren’t. When I treated them as if they were alive, they revived.

I was like those plants. I was depressed, and I had to fight to plaster a smile on my face, but God is always good. He did not give up on me. He did not let me quit. He’s still working on me.

Another applicable principle is that pruning often helps a plant that looks dead. I cut the dead growth away so that it would not take energy from the plant. John 15:2 says, “”Every branch in Me that does not bear fruit, He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit, He prunes it so that it may bear more fruit.”

God pruned me during the past year. I still have things He wants me to do. I have fruit to bear, books to write, music to play, and children to teach.

He isn’t finished with me yet, and He isn’t finished with you either.

Sifting Through Stuff

Deep within is an inner pack rat longing for expression...

Deep within me is an inner pack rat longing for expression…

Cue the theme song for TLC’s show Hoarding…

If it even has a theme song. I can never watch long enough to tell.

Because that show makes me nervous. Does my house resemble TLC’s photo? Um, no.

And yes. Because there are closets, stuffed drawers, dark corners. And those little piles beside my bed that grow.

I save too much. What can I say, I grew up collecting antiques. I would love to live in a crooked, rambling old house like Narnia’s Professor Digory Kirke, with all those rooms stuffed with curiosities.

But I don’t.

Anyway, they say the best time to declutter is when you are feeling it, when enough finally becomes enough. I reached this point tonight. I think it had something to do with having a nice fire burning on the hearth. The perfect opportunity to destroy paper clutter, right?

So satisfying, watching stuff burn.

hoarders-haulMy usual style is to attack the entire house like a maniac, tearing out far more than can be put away. Tonight reason prevailed, and I focused only on the area beside my bed. Yeah, those piles I mentioned earlier. I have been trying to be better organized, and today I covered some ground.

Or maybe I should say I uncovered it.

Amid the trash, precious treasures: Jewelry, unearthed in a drawer. A really great photo of my parents. Gift cards, put carefully in a “safe” place (that I promptly forgot about). Ha, and the copyright certificates from the Library of Congress for my Mercy’s Embrace books.

I also found cards sent by dear friends when I was gravely ill. How I enjoyed reading them again!

Is my home now perfect? Not by a long shot. But I’ve made headway in the bedroom. I feel more at ease in here, and that’s worth celebrating.

Next up, my close-top desk. Who knows what lurks inside? The rest of my missing jewelry, I hope.
Laura Hile (1)

I Must Decrease

Don’t stand near me.

I may have shared my theory of weight with you before, but it’s worth resharing. Lately, I’m seeing more and more evidence of its truth.

Robin’s Theory of Weight states that the weight in the world at any given time must remain constant. When a person departs this world, enough babies are born to replace the lost weight. If one person is losing weight, those pounds are looking for a place to go. Someone must gain them. (This idea actually has some scientific merit. Since matter is neither created nor destroyed by ordinary means, that fat has to go somewhere or be converted into something else.)

Now to my point: Don’t stand near anyone who is successfully shedding pounds. The lost weight may glom onto you. (Yes, “glom” is a word, and the expression “glom onto” is well-known in the South.)


May 30th, I took several embarrassingly revealing pictures of myself, and I started a nutritional program.

To date, I’ve lost 36 pounds. I’d like to lose 30 more, but then, I’d like to write a best-seller, too.


I look and feel much better. Being healthy may have to be enough.

The title of this post is a reference to John 3:30. My Theory of Weight is a joke. The verse is not.he-must-increase-1


The sweet serenity of books

Darcy ventures forth!

Darcy ventures forth! Because even winners need a smile.

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
~ Charles Dickens, 
A Tale of Two Cities

So this morning I sent out giveaway books: little treasures in the post for lucky winners. It’s a hopeful way to start a new week. I don’t know about you, but after the series of recent tragedies–Dallas, Nice, Turkey, Baton Rouge–I can use a dose of hopeful.

Lewis-braveknightsYet as a writer of light fiction, I puzzle over my contribution to the world. During the school year, my calling is clear: I change the world 20 – 30 teenagers at a time. But my summers are all about creating happy escapist stories. What good are those? Why has God called me to such a task?

Ah, but then I remember my Tolkien and my Lewis– friends, Christian brothers, and writing comrades. Men who lived through two world wars, an era that was just as dark and scary as our modern age.

Hopeful fiction, they remind me, has value, both to teach and to comfort.  There are times when we need to close the doors, curl up with a book, and escape the madness.

Photo: Mrhayata (Creative Commons Flickr)

Photo: Mrhayata (Creative Commons Flickr)

“I have claimed that Escape is one of the main functions of fairy-stories, and since I do not disapprove of them, it is plain that I do not accept the tone of scorn or pity with which ‘Escape’ is now so often used.

Why should a man be scorned if, finding himself in prison, he tries to get out and go home? Or if he cannot do so, he thinks and talks about other topics than jailers and prison-walls?”
~J. R. R. Tolkien

There are lessons to be learned from stories.  Bright truths, embedded like gems, that ready us for harsh realities.


“Fairy tales do not tell children the dragons exist. Children already know that dragons exist. Fairy tales tell children the dragons can be killed.”
~ G. K. Chesterton

As we begin a new week, let’s slay some dragons. And when the wolves begin to howl, let’s bar the door and calm our anxious thoughts by reading.

Laura Hile (1)

Never Mind the Manoeuvres

For manipulation to be most effective, evidence of its presence should be nonexistent… It is essential, therefore, that people who are manipulated believe in the neutrality of their key social institutions.    Herbert Schiller

Elliot_concertMan-ip-u-lation is the by-word for my writing today. I’m starting to add William Elliot to various scenes in Captain Wentworth’s Guide to Romance and Travel*, and above all things, he is a master manipulator.

The above quote is also good for me personally. Last week I was manipulated by an acquaintance and didn’t realize it until a few days later. The only reason I did, was because,  the evidence of the manipulation was all over the conversation. It’s too bad that I’m the perfect mark, a person who trusts and isn’t looking to be conned. Especially by people I know.

What’s funny is I have a lot of manipulative people in my life. My mom is a master. She’s even told me how she does it most of the time. I look back on my life and see instances in which I was “handled.”  I suppose a better term for it would be what Austen used: worked on.

This is probably why I like the quote by Lord Admiral Nelson: “Never mind the manoeuvres, go straight at them.”  Though, he wound up being killed in battle and brought home in a cask of brandy. I doubt I will suffer the same fate.

Do you see it coming? Or are you more savvy than I?

Anyway, today is a work day. Manipulative Mr Elliot is going in to do his magic. Will Anne see his emotional slight-of-hand, or will she succumb?

*Click HERE for the new posting of Captain Wentworth’s Guide to Romance and Travel up at SusanKayeWriter.

The risk of showing mercy

Photo: Mauricio Lima (Creative Commons Flickr)

A time to grieve with France, America’s first ally. Photo: Mauricio Lima (Creative Commons Flickr)

Homicidal hatred. That’s what the Vatican called yesterday’s attacks in Paris, and I completely agree.

I would use the word tragic, but tragedy involves happenstance. There was no element of chance last night. The attacks were purposeful and deliberate. More than tragic, they were monstrous and cruel.

Today we grieve with with the people of Paris, with families whose loved ones were “soft targets,” easy marks for violence. What did they do to deserve such hatred?

And yet Jesus said, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you… (Matthew 5:44, King James Bible)

He did not say this would be easy. Jesus is like that. He challenges those who follow Him to show mercy, to take risks.

Where I work, I see this kind of risk and mercy lived out. Three mornings a week we host English classes for Muslim refugees on our church campus. These are legal, documented refugees–and most are Iraqi women. Members of our church family (retired teachers and volunteers) teach the classes. New students come fearfully, reluctant to even enter a church building.

Ah, but just inside the door are Bob and his team with smiles and coffee. An “enemy” with coffee and friendship? The fear doesn’t last long. Kindness and love are like that–they drive out fear. Each year our classes have grown larger, and students are eager to come. Because our high school classrooms share the same hallway, I am able to greet them. How happy these women are to respond with their new English skills!

“Why are the Christians the only ones to help us?” We have heard this more than a few times. The way we see it, these refugees are fellow humans in need. Why wouldn’t we reach out with the love of Christ? And a cup of coffee? And used furniture for their apartments? And day-old bread and produce collected from the local New Seasons market?

Will our mercy one day work against us? Will these English students turn on us with violent hatred? It’s a legitimate question, and one the French are asking. Their welcome was repaid with murder. And so we grieve with them.

“Where words fail, music speaks.” ~ Hans Christian Anderson

And thank you, Carryl, for sharing this video on Facebook.