Small Bites – Appetizers for life

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Last week I challenged myself and you to intentionally practice good heart and soul nutrition.  When I shared my plan with my daughter, she looked at me incredulously and said, “Well, that may work for you, but I seriously don’t have time for anything.  I’m barely keeping my head above water.”  She is a full time teacher, mother of an active one year old and wife to a firefighter who has strange shift hours.  I’m sure there are many of you out there who have the same or similar lives – full to the brim.  Your life may feel like a constant sideshow of juggling plates.  How do you find balance between responsibilities and refreshment?  How do you get rid of some plates without sending them crashing to the floor?

First, don’t be too hard on yourself.  You know you’re doing the best you can.  But in the honorable attempt of striving for the good, we often miss the best.  Like filling up on good appetizers before the meal is served.  Stay with me here….sometimes the appetizers can BE the meal.  When we were traveling in Spain last summer, we discovered pinchos (something like tapas) and made our evening meal by cruising around from pinchos bar to pinchos bar sampling all the goodness in small bites.

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Perhaps that works best for you if you’re like my daughter.   Sometimes a big meal can not only be overwhelming to plan but have burdensome calories to shed later.   So take small bites throughout your day.

PINCHOS FOR THE SOUL 

Prayer and reading:      15min of inspirational nourishment (social media doesn’t count)

Love on your loved ones:  Start with at least 5 full minutes of uninterrupted, intentional hugs, kisses, smiles, laughs (not to be combined with any other duties) and continue as needed throughout the day.  This can absolutely MAKE a kid’s day like nothing else!

Take a break:  Even if it’s just a minute to stop work to close your eyes and BREATHE.

Make a list:   Prioritize stuff and cut the fluff.  Your calendar (and your checkbook) reveal what’s REALLY important to you.  List still too long?  Then…

Delegate:   No one person can do it all.  Ask for help and be ready to receive it graciously.  (Keep your lips buttoned if it’s not perfect.)

Take a Sabbath:  A full day of R & R.  Unless you work 24/7, you CAN do this.

Take a walk:  Or ride, hike, jog….whatever gets you outdoors for a few minutes.

Be quiet:  Avoid always turning on music or talking on the phone (blah!) when you’re alone in the car.  If you have kids in the car, have a conversation with them.  Or just listen to their conversation.  Hysterical!

Write one good thing:  Write down one good thing a day that you’re grateful for.  Keep it short and post it where your family can see it.

This is only a sample of a LONG menu.  But every one of these suggestions has one thing in common:  FOCUS.  You must only take one bite at a time and savor it.  Otherwise, it’s like stuffing your mouth with salmon dill appetizers mixed with garlic bruschetta toasts and fruit kabobs.  At best, the tastes compete with one another and at worst, they are just downright nasty.  Either way, you can’t relish the full flavor unless you concentrate on one thing at a time, giving it your full attention and appreciation.  So, contrary to the American Way…no multi-tasking allowed.  It just won’t work and will leave you with a bad taste in your mouth.

Good food is worth the planning and preparation and deserves to be eaten slowly.  Savor every small bite.  Bon appetit!

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Stuck between almost and not enough

Pondering Italy
Pondering Italy

The Six Word Memoir – summing up your life as it is in six small words. (http://www.sixwordmemoirs.com)

I came across a link to this website in my insatiable search for more information and advice on how to hone my writing skills. Putting my stories into words about living abroad on the island of Crete will hopefully, one day become a published memoir.   In the meantime, I remember and write.  Those days seem so long ago, although it’s been just over a year since we relocated back to the States.  When I sit and write about those five years on Crete it’s almost like a misty fragrance that takes me back instantly to the island.  Photos do the same thing but, for me nothing is as poignant as words.  So, I write.  Sometimes I’m prolific but much of the time I’m just stuck.  Stuck for words, stuck for ideas, stuck in the mediocrity of my own doing.  Sometimes that’s how life is, too.

Portugese patience
Portugese patience

STUCK BETWEEN ALMOST AND NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Do you ever get that feeling, “I was created for MORE!” So many times in my life I have felt like I’m almost there only to find out it’s not enough. A deep dissatisfaction settles in and I continue my search filling up my personal and work life with carbo-loaded appetizers when what I really need is some good protein – the real feast. In my quest for the BEST, I settle for good. Perhaps that’s how we were created. To desire and search out the BEST which is ultimately found in God, who knows us up close and personal. So when I feel stuck, I see it as a positive thing because it encourages me to once again reevaluate my life. What extraneous fillers have I gorged myself on that fill me up yet leave me dissatisfied in the end? I have to believe that God has a feast for me and I will not settle for chips and dip.

The Mediterranean diet
The Mediterranean diet

So how does one identify the “chips and dip” in one’s life.  For starters, I take a long hard look at the most precious commodity I have – TIME.  How am I filling my time?  What “fat” can I trim?  I ask myself, “What truly nourishes me – my dreams, my goals, my passions?”

What I discovered was when I intentionally put myself on a “diet” of good food for the soul, I had more time to spare and felt much healthier.  Anyone knows that the worst thing you can do is fill up on appetizers before a big glorious meal.  I used to be a glutton for Facebook, TV, YouTube, and other forms of social media that fed my couch potato existence under the disguise of “relaxing.”  But after I was done filling up on these things, I was strangely dissatisfied and hungry for something more.  Then came the “diet.”  I cut out all the extraneous bad fat from my day and I was amazed at how much more time (and energy) I had for the things that were BEST.  Sure, I still check Facebook but now it’s on the other end of the meal – dessert.

Spanish decadence
Spanish decadence

Take the challenge with me.  What can you cut out in order to enter into God’s best for you?

Next blog post – details of the daily diet that works for me …..

Greek villa still life
Greek villa still life