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thoughts on service

By Robyn Openshaw, MSW | Nov 11, 2009

I don’t know about you-all, but I have a lot of sick people in my life right now. A couple of my tennis-club girlfriends are having serious issues affecting their ability to play–these being women in their 30’s and 40’s–like ovarian cancer and blurry vision suspected to be a brain tumor. Another of my good friends had brain surgery a few weeks ago for an aneurysm, and was told that her veins look 70 years old. I could go on, but suffice it to say that I seem to be surrounded by folks getting cancer, thyroid problems, gout, and many other issues.

This weighs heavily on me. In my community, people know each other well because most (far more than 75%) belong to the same church, so either we go to church together, or we know the few who don’t. My church, world-wide, has a well-run system to make sure that no one is without a regular visitor to check up on them and help meet their needs. There are welfare systems in place for those who hit hard times, and if you are ill, WATCH OUT–the women’s organization will be all over you with loads of casseroles, treats, and all manner of food items!

I watched my girlfriend who has a 16-inch scar on her head (and her really long, curly hair gone now but growing in beautifully already). She and her husband are very well known in the community. He is a rather famous local recording artist, and she is one of the kindest, service-oriented people I know.

So people wanted to help. Every time I’m at their house since her recovery I see things that I know she does not want to eat. LOTS of homemade “stardard American diet.” She loves plant food, would be vegetarian except for (1) her love of occasional shrimp, and (2) the fact that her husband likes his meat and she likes to oblige.

In this community, you can find yourself wondering what you could do to help–with so many others lovin’ this family up. (I’m on a list to babysit their youngest child, but they never take me up on it . . .)

Well, my way to help when someone has surgery, or is bedridden, is GREEN SMOOTHIES. It’s unique and it’s appreciated more than another plate of “goodies.” However much they want–a pint a day, or a quart. Sometimes the spouse wants some, too. I’ve had a wonderful experience with helping people in this way. Even if they aren’t interested in nutrition, they seem to always appreciate the smoothies and always want to give me feedback about how much better they feel, drinking them. Sometimes they keep the habit up, themselves, after they recover.

I also get the sense that of all the food that pours into my girlfriend’s house (the one with the aneurysm), they appreciate and anticipate green smoothies more. Very frankly, the last thing people need when they are SICK is more of the food that helped get them that way. You’re never more motivated to make lifestyle changes than when you’re ill.

This isn’t to criticize the way so many show love with food, because the givers’ hearts are in the right place. Once I read a rant by an extremely overweight person about how she wished people would not give her chocolate and other junk food for various occasions requiring gifts. She called it “abuse.” Is it abuse to give an obese person a box of chocolates?

I’ll leave that question hanging out there. Fact is, all I want to say is that if you make green smoothies every day for yourself, you already understand something most people don’t. You’ve learned the “highest and best use” of your kitchen time. When your life allows it, double that and take some to someone else you know would benefit. (If you’re shy, ask them first. Or just take them a pint. Explain why you think it might benefit them.)

It’s a gift of your time and energy (and it isn’t free, of course). But as people are wringing their hands right now about flu and H1N1, you can do something during the winter and holidays to HELP instead of hurt their health. It’s pretty easy and people are SO grateful.

I’d love to hear your story about taking GS to folks who are suffering with health problems to give others ideas and motivation. Or maybe you’re a recipient of that service?

My dear friend Laura converted to GS a couple years ago and has taken them to a woman who is wheelchair bound and blind from a degenerative disease. Her ability to swallow is severely impaired. She is such a blessing to her friend. How about you?

Posted in: Green Smoothies

13 thoughts on “thoughts on service”

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What a great idea to bring them to the sick and the well also on the lists of those we visit and home teach. I have shared them with our home teacher and I have brought them to work and had patients try some. I have made them here at work for people. I have a great blender here at work to make them here when I do my health classes. It is all good.

    Have a good GS day!! I have one at my desk everyday at work. My son brings them to school.

  2. Anonymous says:


    I have a brother who is going through his third bout with colorectal cancer. Within a few days of discovering your site and green smoothies, I discussed them with my brother. With his agreement, I immediately began delivering him three days worth of smoothies a couple of times a week. He has been a classic SAD eater and so I am thrilled beyond measure that he is now consuming so many fruits and vegetables (a quart/day). He has little appetite and continues to lose weight (6 ft/130 lbs.). Any suggestions for weight gain? His chemo nurse is suggesting steroids!



  3. Anonymous says:

    Thank you for the post! I am sorry for all the trouble your friends are having. Thank you for the idea of giving GS to people who need meals. I always try to take fruit for a dessert instead of sweets because they get bombarded with crap like that.

  4. Anonymous says:

    What GS recipe do you prepare for a sick friend who is not accustomed to drinking GSs?

    Thanks, ~Carol

  5. Anonymous says:

    I’m trying so hard to make healthy eating a priority for just my family and can’t see past that yet. I need to master that first. What motivated me is so many people around me are sick too. Breast cancer, fibromyalgia, just being ‘sick’, tumours, graves disease, kidney stones, depression…. I have never had these things, but I’m terrified of getting cancer. It is all over the place! If there is a way to prevent it, at least for me and my kids, I want to do what it takes. If it means getting away from meat, sugar and other things, then I think it’s well worth it. I’m having a VERY difficult time at home though. This is causing a HUGE strain on my marriage. My husband thinks my new changes are fanatical, and believes that the kids (2 and 3) should be able to eat whatever they want. My response is, if I buy the food, I’m going to buy what I think is best. If I prepare the food, I’m going to offer what I think is best for my kids. (btw – they like what I fix) I feel it is my responsibility to raise them eating healthy, especially while they are so young. We both work full time, so it isn’t a set rule that ‘I’ have to do the food preparation, (but it ends up that way a lot) I tell him he is free to eat what I make, or he can make something else if he wants – not in a mean way or tone… but he is taking my changes almost as threatening. I wonder how many others are getting a fight over trying to get healthy?

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was trying to think of healthy things to send my friend who’s a soldier, I know Eden Organics doesn’t use BPA in their canning so I can send him some beans and I was going to send over dried fruit and nuts and some almond/hemp/rice milk, I would like some more suggestions if anyone has them please.

  7. Anonymous says:

    This is such a wonderful suggestion! In April, of this year, I had a baby girl, and because of a loss of a lot of blood, was put on bedrest. So many people came to help me recover. I was overwhelmed, and felt so loved. They not only allowed me to rest, but took care of my husband, and both of our daughters. I feel like it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t jump at the opportunity to help someone else if such a situation ever arised. This is a wonderful idea, and Lord willing, I’d make this my contribution.

  8. Anonymous says:


    My husband has been fighting cancer and I have done extensive research on how to fight it. I found Robyn’s web site at the beginning of it all. My DH was given 6 – 18 mos to live, it has been over 2 years. He, too got really thin (lost 100 lbs) which I think was because he was toxic. We did a cleanse and that made all the difference. If you would like info please email me: mcfarka at hot mail dot com.

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Shanna Anderson, I just wanted to post on your comment – I’m kind of in the same boat as you are. My hubby is a die-hard meat and potatoes guy, whereas I have become converted to GSG ways since doing a lot of reading and researching. I am in charge of cooking meals though since I stay home with the kids (3.5 & 1.5).

    This past summer I went really gung-ho with whole food/vegetarian/vegan and tried really hard to cut out meat and bad sugars. I think it may have been a bit easier on my hubby if I went gradually, but it was so hard not to do a complete 180 degree change with food once you read how bad the SAD is; once you learn something you can’t un-learn it!

    Anyway, it created A LOT!!!!! of stress on our marriage. I finally decided that something along these lines is what would have to work for us (BTW he works full-time, a physical job, and I mostly stay home with the kids, although I have an occasional once-a-week job):

    I decided that since he works to bring the money home so that we can actually afford food, that I need to be respectful of that. I will cook his junky food, meat, SAD if that’s what he wants. Even though deep down I feel that it is unhealthy and completely wrong, who am I to decide for him what he should eat. Yes, I will have a hard time if he gets a major illness, but it is his life to choose the path for. He doesn’t enjoy my food and (maybe it’s a man thing??!?) he says why should he eat if he doesn’t enjoy it? I argue that sometimes you have to eat things that are good for you even if you don’t like them, and that they are acquired tastes anyway so you can learn to like different things, but I digress.

    Anyway, I cook his food for supper, and for his work lunchbox, and if we have breakfast together on the weekends. But for me and the girls, I serve our food to us for breakfast and lunch. I try to have ‘my’ food for supper available for them as well, emphasis on the veggies and hardly any meat if possible. Even though I would lean toward vegetarian/vegan, they are OUR kids not just mine, and even though I’m the one who’s done all the research it isn’t completely fair to have me make all the rules, as much as I would like it that way.

    It ends up that sometimes I cook two meals or two main dishes, which I struggled with at first. I didn’t think it was fair to me. I finally decided that I needed to keep the bread winner happy since it’s because of him that we have food, and that if my way of eating truly was important to me, then I would make the time to prepare those extra dishes as well.

    Whew, well that’s my novel 🙂 Hope it maybe helps you a bit. It may not apply since you both are working, but maybe it’ll give you some things to think about. Good for you for going healthy and teaching your kids. I’ve noticed that my kids do better on good food, of course, and my 3yo is starting to discuss food choices with me, asking what’s good and why, etc. I too think it is so important to start young. I wonder how it will be with baby #3 if it gets a healthy start from day 1. My two now definitely choose junk over healthy, but they at least say yes to healthy and are satisfied 95% of the time.

    I’d probably say that one of the keys to converting to healthier if you have hubby resistance is to TAKE IT SLOW! Or at least camouflage it!! As hard as it is to do that, I’d say that was my biggest mistake with my hubby. It scared the crap out of him because all of a sudden there was no cow milk, I was sprouting seeds, we were eating lentils, dehydrating, and then of course the intimidating looking GS, I have to admit that’s a lot to take in in a small time period! It totally started him off on the defensive so of course his instinctive reaction was to reject it. It may not have resulted in much different to go slower, but it would have made a few months of h*ll a bit easier instead.

    Okay, that really is it this time! I’m done writing! Hope it helps to share my story. Good luck!

  10. Deirdre – we have a close friend who is now on his second tour of duty. Among the care packages we sent his first time out was a combo case of freeze-dried fruit from http://honeyvillegrain.com I sent it because I figured that was probably a pretty significant hole in their diet and apparently it was a huge hit (our friend gave me a hard time because all the guys in his unit were suddenly much more “regular”! lol).

  11. Anonymous says:

    Lily thank you so much! That is perfect! I think he and his unit will really enjoy it :] Thanks again!

  12. Anonymous says:

    Angela – I completely laughed out loud when I read your comment ” It scared the crap out of him because all of a sudden there was no cow milk, I was sprouting seeds, we were eating lentils, dehydrating, and then of course the intimidating looking GS”. That was so funny – oh my gosh – I can totally relate though! I started making sprouted almond milk last year and very rarely to I buy cows milk, and just for my husband. He’ll say, do we have any milk? I usually say, “sure – I can make you some” – lol. He rolls his eyes and tells me “that’s ok”. I laugh and tell him it’s really good. He’s ok with it in oatmeal or something, but when he wants a glass, he want’s the real thing. Thing is, I’ve gotten SO good at making it that I think it is better tasting than cows, and I was a HUGE die hard fan my whole life till this last year.

    Well, I’m trying not to be forceful in any way and he is actually enjoying the green smoothies I make for him. Fortunately he is not shying away from them. I am though being VERY careful to give him ones that are sweeter and have more fruits and lots of ice. They really are delicious, and most of the time he will ask “what’s in this” I will tell him all the ingredients and he is ALWAYS surprised to find out what veggies are in there. But when I give him the smoothies, he is complaining of the after effects later in the afternoon – lol. I laugh and explain that it is his bodys way of detoxing from the regular diet he is used to – I usually get a “huh!” 🙂

    So…. baby steps huh? I’m still cooking some of the stuff he likes, but when I do, I find it hard to not eat some of it. (usually much smaller portions than I would have several months ago though, so that’s good) I’d rather not make it at all so I won’t be tempted, but I guess I do feel sort of guilty, plus, I don’t want the huge fights like we were starting to get into. I think it gets easier all the time, but one step at a time 🙂 Thanks for the post though – it made my afernoon.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Shanna and Angela-It is good to read your messages. In June of this year I bought my Vitamix and discovered Green Smoothies. In searching for recipes and other information on nutrition, I have been learning about raw food diets. One of the best books regarding nutrition I came across was “The China Study” by Thomas Campbell, II. It explains so much of the effects of animal proteins and the numerous diseases it causes as opposed to plant based protein and the vast health benefits. (Hope it’s okay to endorsed this).

    My husband too thinks I’m a bit extreme. He is accustomed to a SBD, “Standard British Diet”. He looks in the fridge and complains there is nothing for him to eat. It’s packed with fruits and vegetable and nuts and such. I also make some separate meals. However I do make him fruit and almond milk smoothies which he loves.

    I had high blood pressure, high cholesterol and was taking anti-depressants. I was not over weight, eat reasonably well and exercised. Also had to have a biopsy after a mammogram, (which was negative). My mother died of breast cancer. So decided to research alternative ways besides medication and found the simplest most obvious answer; nutrition, plain and simple whole foods! So since June I lowered my total cholesterol 37 points, just given okay to stop bp medication 2 days ago and completely whined off of anti-depressants, (for almost 2months). I dropped 10 lbs.

    Funny thing though, just had laparoscopic surgery for bowel obstruction a few days ago. My husband was sure it was do to all this crazy diet of mine, he all but accused me of being obsessed with it! The surgeons assured him this was not the case, but old scare tissue due a previous splenectomy.

    Any way it’s good to read you messages, very supportive. It’s funny how this can cause a rift…getting healthy! Your suggestions and experience for “change”, again thanks.

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