My husband and I recently took a week off to spend some time in California. Here are my four takeaways from the trip:
One. People take vacations to my current city and enjoy everything (like I did in California) that I normally take for granted. To build an attitude of appreciation, I decided to use Instagram to practice looking at my surroundings more and enjoying it.
Two. Consume Mindfully. Many restaurants in California asked that you request only the amount of water that you will drink. While the current shortage of water required this, I think this emphasis on ‘taking just what you need’ is a form of kindness that is often overlooked.
Three. Doing everything isn’t always the best thing. In new cities, I usually pressure myself to hit all the major attractions and restaurants. On this trip, we prioritized catching up and relaxing with ourselves and with our friends. As a result, I came out of this trip feeling rejuvenated instead of exhausted. I’m sure this applies to other things in life.
Four. Good friendship is happiness. We met up with friends, who felt like they never moved away, who opened their homes to us, whom we missed dearly. They made us happy, and we hope we made them happy, too.
Knowing which side is the right side makes us more determined. And, knowing that the other side is the wrong side stops us from continuing the effort for that wrong side.
We generally prefer to take the road that we are sure of. But sometimes, the only thing we are sure of is that a certain direction is the wrong one–so we head toward a path that’s anything but that wrong path. I think that makes for a fun story.
I always ate to survive, to avoid hunger, to prevent the crankiness that ensues if I don’t.
My least favorite responsibility of adulthood is meal planning. It is extremely burdensome to do on a daily basis. In the past, I have made many attempts to standardize my dinner-routine: subscription meal services, online grocery shopping, weekend grocery shopping, slow cooking, etc. Each option reiterated how hard and frustrating it is to develop a sustainable cooking habit that works for me. I easily lose motivation and opt to calling that go-to takeout number.
If I could describe cooking in one syllable it would be: ugh.
Then this happened on a Tedtalk by Suzana Herculano-Houzel:
“…cooking frees time for us to do much more interesting things with our day…”
Through those words, my previous obligatory attitude towards cooking changed (a little bit) to a liberating one. Suzana helped me to realize that cooking is meant to open up time for me, not the other way around.
While I still don’t know the how, this perspective changes my “ugh” to “hmm.” In my book, that’s a fine step forward.
Lean In is a book that comes up a lot in conversations about women, motherhood, careers and the decisions surrounding them.
Unfortuantely, the conversations tend to either pit stay at home moms against women with career goals or end on a sour note about not having enough resources (as Sheryl Sandberg does) to have it all.
I think this misses the point of the book entirely. When I read ‘Lean In,’ I didn’t read some hostile cry about placing one decision over another. And I definitely didn’t read anything about placing all women in that corner office.
One of the last sentences of the book summarized my 2 main take-aways:
“My greatest hope is that [men and women] will be able to choose what to do with their lives without external or internal obstacles slowing them down or making them question their choices.”
“…[men and women] will be able to choose what to do with their lives…” She referenced her son and daughter–either way, it’s not about what choices are best for whom. It’s just about having choices to no limits.
“…without external or internal obstacles slowing them down or making them question their choices.” It’s about respecting and enriching others. It’s about being “comfortable with our choices and to feel validated by those around us.” And if I am criticizing another’s choices, it may be because something that the other has is making me insecure of what I don’t have.
So the question is, what do I want. It will be different from what someone else wants. But, that’s good. Because it only means that we can complement each other.
Something to try: Think about what choices are important to me. Be more aware of how I make others feel about their decisions. Am I supportive or critical? Question why.
First of all, I don’t know what combinations of vegetables, grains, and/or fruits complement each other. I don’t know which dressing will go best with the salad concoction that I just made up, on the spot, under pressure. It’s not my fault that you can’t hear me behind this 9″ thick plexiglass! I think the person behind me hates me.
From my experience, most people don’t value outlandish combinations of choices to choose from. Too much freedom makes many nervous.
Some go out of their way to reduce unnecessary decision making from their lives. Cue Capsule Wardrobe. And, I agree!
But the point of minimizing choices in the basic things is to make room for the things that matter. Because some things are worth the time spent on exploring the infinite possibilities.
When I feel pressured by choices and the people watching me, I force myself to be limited. Salad menus can be pre-made for me. But my life’s journey doesn’t.
Something to try: Quit feeling pressured by the chatter around me regarding the decisions I should be making at each point of my life. They can wait while I dream up my concoction.