Today, while grocery shopping, I couldn’t help but overhear a woman in the next aisle who was gushing to her neighbor behind her. “I love these instant lightly sauced veggie microwave packages,” she said. ” I just pop them in the microwave and ‘poof’ – 5 minutes and they’re done!” Rushing to put the last of my items on the mechanical runner that was delivering my food choices to a less than enthusiastic cashier, I stopped to wonder: Is a magically instant anything really a benefit?
Lately, I’ve been wondering how we’re all doing it. Rushing in the morning to get the dog fed, the kids off to school and ourselves to work, where we run at triple speed until it’s time to come home and run some more. This kind of lifestyle certainly lends itself to the desire for quick fixes that buy us more time, but by always choosing the quick-fix, pre-fab way of doing things, aren’t we just adding to the problem? It seems the 10-minute workout has replaced mindful ways of getting fit these days. Instead of reading a book, we read magazines that are created with the fast-track commuter in mind, with articles that are shorter than ever, containing more photos and “pull quotes” than ever so we can skim through each piece – stopping and resuming between all of the rushing around we do in a given day or week. And home-cooked meals have been replaced with “instant” meals that we don’t have to think about. But that’s the rub, isn’t it? No thought means no consideration for ourselves, no sense that our selves are worth the time or the energy necessary for creating a meal, reading that article in one sitting, or getting healthy in ways that we can enjoy.
I’ve spent the last four Sundays cooking healthy but really delicious meals that my daughter and I can eat throughout the week. I know what you’re thinking. “What a drain on your ‘you’ time!” But here’s the thing: There’s been something really satisfying about the rhythmic cutting of vegetables while listening to my favorite music, bopping around in the kitchen while I cook. The smells that fill the air are like a down-home aromatherapy – and the sight of a full fridge of home cooked meals makes me feel like I’ve pampered myself, that I’m worth taking the time for. Best of all, the time I’ve been dedicating on Sundays has alleviated some stress for my daughter and I during the week, and given us more time together.
Listen, I’m not suggesting that everyone would get the same satisfaction out of a regular Sunday morning cooking session. After all, I’m an eccentric, passionate Italian who really connects with everything sensory to begin with. But what I AM saying is that quicker isn’t always better; shortcuts often cut the beauty out of what could have been a scenic drive; not taking the time to take care of yourself (in whatever way would be most meaningful for you) results in you not remembering the worth of yourself. We’re so busy cutting corners to save time, that we aren’t stopping to appreciate the things that we are doing. Why let the rush of day-to-day life take that away from you?
I say, find a way to take care of yourself, because it’s the best way to handle the rush of every day life to begin with. Whether you run 20 minutes every morning before your morning commute, or you meditate on your lunch break to survive the rat race of the workday – whether you take a weekly piano lesson to remember that there’s more to you than the daily reports you churn out at the office, or you read science fiction novels to feed your sense of adventure in between playing chauffeur for your children all week – do something for you, regularly, to remind yourself that 1) there’s a human being that underlies all of the roles you play all day and 2) that a human being deserves, dare I say needs, to be nurtured to feel his/her own worth – to rejuvenate – to thrive.
Feeling burned out? Get out today and take a walk, make your favorite home-cooked meal, watch the sun set or the leaves fall, get your nails done, take that class you’ve been itching to take – and, at bare minimum, I highly recommend skipping the instant lightly sauced veggie microwave packages.