Stop and Taste the Coffee

Today I was fortunate enough to spend the day at a leadership retreat in the company of some incredible emerging leaders. We heard from some incredible facilitators, coaches and speakers. Since it was an all day retreat we were provided breakfast pastries with coffee and yummy lunch by Freebirds in Isla Vista. The interesting dilemma for me was that I LOVE having a hot beverage in the morning – it doesn’t have to be caffeinated, but I do need that ritual to be fulfilled. I had run out of the house and hadn’t had a chance to brew my own decaf coffee and looked forward to a cup. So, I decided that I would allow myself my very first experience with caffeine in over 6 months. Now, since I’ve been doing the 30 day fit kit, I had to eliminated caffeine, alcohol, peanut butter, dairy, gluten, soy and processed sugar. Most of these were easy enough to eliminate – but for me my Sunday morning staple breakfast usually is baguette and French Brie – that was hard to give up – as was the occasional glass of wine or Belgian beer! Caffeine was an easy one for me…so when I partook in the caffeine this morning, even though it was just about 8oz – I ‘felt’ it. My head actually felt fuzzy, I almost felt like I had had too much alcohol the night before and I was paying the price. It was the oddest most uncomfortable feeling. It made me realize that now, as I re-introduce gluten, dairy (just for the baguette and brie), and soy (LOVE edamame) I should really watch for the effect on my body. This program is a natural detoxification that allows you to reset your metabolic thermostat and eliminate allergenic (peanut butter, soy), addictive (caffeine, alcohol) and acidic (gluten, dairy) foods from your diet. Now as I re-introduce them just one at a time, I get to see the true effect these foods have on me and whether or not I should stay away from them for the long haul.

We are so busy in our lives that we never stop to smell the coffee, let alone analyze the affect that it has on our body. Lately, I have become a huge proponent of mindful eating; it’s a great way to get full sooner – that is, you end up eating a lot less than you should/would. We are such an instant gratification society – we want food here and now and we want it when we want it. We get impatient at a restaurant when the waiter takes longer than usual to bring out our food – they’re as impatient to get you out so they can turn the table over to a new set of diners, as you are to eat and get out of there. Even when we’re taking the time to have a night out…we’re in a hurry to eat and run. Maybe that’s because as parents of young ‘uns we don’t really get to sit down a lot. In my house, we all eat at the breakfast bar in the kitchen that only has 3 chairs and so I always end up standing and eating – especially since I’m feeding the little one simultaneously in the high chair, to the point where these days even when I don’t have to feed him – I end up standing and eating my meals because it’s such a habit…one that I am committed to breaking!

All of this to say – that if you can take a few minutes to sit down with your meal in front of you – look at your plate and absorb with your eyes what you see in front of you; after all we eat with all our senses, not just our taste buds. When was the last time you spooned glop into your mouth even if you were promised it was as tasty as lobster? It needs to look, smell AND taste good! If it doesn’t we won’t even take a bite of it! My daughter is proof of this hypothesis – I offered her something that I knew she would like – an Indian lentil, a different one than what she usually likes and because it looked different and not too appealing, she refused to try it. She wouldn’t even smell it!

After you’ve appreciated the aesthetics of the food, THEN taste it; and when you taste the first bite…savor it. Try and isolate flavors – pick out spices, enjoy the textures, chew slowly and a lot. My grandfather always said – chew your food as many times as you have teeth!

And you’re thinking – is the woman mad? I don’t have time to do this every day for three or more meals a day! What if I told you that if you did this for every meal for a week you would lose 10lb (you won’t)? Or what if I promised you that if you did that, I would send you a check for $1,000! (I won’t) – but my point is, you would find the time, and make a way to do it. So do it for yourself! Do it because it will make you healthier in the long term, because it will help you eat less and feel full for longer, because you will develop a new appreciation for food apart from it being a source of nourishment. Do it because it will cause you to slow down just a tic. In our fast paced life- where we barely even take the time to eat lunch, or we eat at our desk while working- if this is the only thing that slows you down, then how can that be a bad thing?

To borrow from Nike…Just Do It!

Bon Appetit

The Birthright Gift

The Voice of VocationAt the leadership orientation that I spoke of recently, we were given this essay to read. And for reasons that aren’t quite clear, it moved me to tears. I don’t know if its because we were so close to, and therefore one with nature, or because of the introspective and thoughtful nature of the work we were doing, but as I read this essay, my eyes welled up with tears. I was grateful that everyone was engrossed in their own reading and thoughts and so didn’t see the little salty drops trickle down my face.

For longer than I can remember, I have wondered about my purpose in life; I knew there was more to life than the one I was leading. I was a lost soul in my 20s truly dragged far far away from my birthright gift, of my own doing…it’s because I gave my power away. Life became more centered in my 30s – true happiness, peace, home, marriage, kids, roots, community all happened in this incredible decade. And now, poised on the springboard as I am – 8 days away from entering my next decade I am beyond ecstatic – I KNOW that this is the decade that I will ‘find out the path to authentic service in the world.’ For it’s as Frederick Buechner says “vocation is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”

The work that I have been doing, and continue to do will surely bring me closer to my birthright gifts. My true vocation of how I will best serve the world. In no particular order, these are some of the things I have embraced which I believe will help me find what I am truly meant to do.

1) Be Mindful: This is key – living in the here and now. As human beings, our nature is such that we’re always planning for our next best thing. Goals are good and worthy and important, but equally important is living in today. Expressing gratitude for where you are on this road and acknowledging that you are exactly where you are supposed to be, because there’s a purpose to that experience.

2) Simplify/Learn to Say No: The first thing my business coach did when I started to work with her was to make me aware of all the things that I was doing that didn’t really add value to my life; commitments that I made to other people – that took away my commitment to myself and my family. I quickly learned how to say NO…and it is powerful. And what’s more, I realized that the world didn’t fall off it’s axis because I said no. It’s continuing to spin just fine. She recently sent me a link to Jonathan FieldsThe Good Life Project as he interviewed world renowned blogger Leo Babauta who spoke of transforming and simplifying his life. It was inspiring to listen to and made me realize that my own journey is on track as I minimize my ‘outside commitments’ to stay true to what I really want to/need to do.

3) Make more space in your life to explore, create, write, question and spend time with yourself in quiet – you cannot be creative if you don’t give yourself a physical and mental clutter-free environment. My darling husband sent me a great link on Life Hacker on Why you need more margin in your life

4) Conscious Living: We are such a minute speck in the cosmos and I believe that we have been given a responsibility – a gift…we are expected to steward the gift of this planet earth wisely. In fundraising, if you don’t steward your donors and their gifts, you probably won’t get a second meaningful gift from them; this world isn’t so different. If we just focus on how to live OUR best life consciously rather than unconsciously going through our daily motions without thought (read more on that at Zen Habits) then by extension we will be stewarding this beautiful planet we call Earth.

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means – but this is not something you can take on overnight. However it is something you can make a decision to do/start and then once you make that decision – as then, as has been told to us by Nike over and over again – Just Do It™.

Change is Constant! Embrace It!