Why is it that our eating habits tend to get better or worse according to our stress levels? Well, at least mine do. The whole eating thing intrigues me, especially since I'm seeing it more and more as part of my spiritual journey, not just part of what I will loosely refer to as my health "plan"? I found that when I went on silent retreat and was spending hours in contemplation and solitude, I didn't really want to overeat, even when there were delicious treats in front of me. I sipped corn chowder in silence or slowly ate an apple as I listened to a babbling brook. No need for cookies or that extra cup of coffee or a handful of almonds. But put me back into what I consider my high-stress world where freelance writing and three children and housework and volunteer responsibilities all collide to leave me blinking back tears, and suddenly I'm ravenous. I need sweet. I need salty. I need pasta, and lots of it. And even as I mindlessly scarf down whatever catches my eye in the pantry, I am aware of the fact that I should stop, or at least slow down and enjoy the food I'm eating. Anyway, this week I'm feeling less stressed (not sure why since the work is still there) and more mindful (maybe it's the return to yoga) and so I'm finding it easier to slow down my eating and, when I do eat, make better choices. (See that healthy dinner above: baked lemon pepper wild-caught sockeye salmon, stuck-in-pot lentils and rice with pita crust, and fresh steamed string beans.) I'd like to reach a point where I don't want two helpings or two cups of coffee or two cookies, a place where I can enjoy what I need and stop there, a place where food is not filling my spiritual void.
We had Luau Birthday Party: The Sequel last weekend. Chiara had her first official birthday party (Note: I don't count her second birthday, when the guest list was made up of two priests and one seminarian. Quite a bash for a toddler. Yes, we're just weird.) At this year's party we did the limbo, we passed a coconut around like hot potato, we decorated beach buckets, and ate fruit kabobs and a beach cake, and sipped juice out of coconut cups. It was fun, but I sure am glad the parties are over for a while.
If you are a regular reader of Not Strictly Spiritual, you know that I am on a constant quest to pray the Liturgy of the Hours with some sort of regularity (like when I posted about it HERE and HERE). Even keeping up with Morning Prayer alone seems to be too much for me most days. And some of you have emailed me asking for guidance on how to get started with LOTH. Melanie over at The Wine Dark Sea has a great post on this, sort of a LOTH primer with lots of information and resources. Check it out by clicking HERE. And thanks to Amy at Via Media for bringing it to my attention.
Two days ago in this space I talked about the difficulty I have living in the present moment. Along those same lines, I am always trying to figure out how to blend a Franciscan mindset with my "normal" life, which is not at all Franciscan. I have a tendency to obsess with worry over the future, all while living in the relative luxury of a warm (or cool) home with lots of good food, a healthy family and steady work. How do you learn to trust enough to just let go of the worry and really, truly put it all in God's hands? HERE is a beautiful story about a group of Franciscan Friars who did just that. They took almost nothing with them and set out on a pilgrimage in an attempt to really live the ideals St. Francis preached and lived.
From the end of the story:
"Their message will be simple: 'Anything can happen when you live in the moment, one step at a time," said Mark Soehner, 51, one of the mentors to the young friars. 'But to find that out, you have to be willing to take that one step.'"It's really worth your time to read the whole thing. So, if you didn't listen the first time around, click HERE to read it. And thanks to Maria Ruiz Scaperlanda for the heads up on this one.
When I went to 5:45 a.m. yoga class today, my teacher reminded us, as she always does at the outset, to think about whether we had any "intention" for our practice. Today the first thing that came to mind was "peace." I wanted my energy to go toward peace -- in my heart, in my family, in my home. As I was breathing in and out and finding that calm, quiet place, I felt confident that today would be a peace-filled day. Well, that lasted about 30 minutes after arriving home. Maybe less. Why is it so hard to let all those minor annoyances roll off us? I would say that I'll have more peace when school starts in six weeks (SIX MORE WEEKS), but, really, I think I'm supposed to learn how to find peace even in the midst of this circus life of ours. I am a long way from that moment, but I haven't given up.
I got to see a childhood friend last weekend. It was a highlight of my summer. Kari and I met when we were both in fifth grade and volunteering as "kindergarten aides" in our elementary school. We stayed friends through high school and have kept in touch semi-regularly, more so since we joined Facebook. It was great to spend time with her and her family. It's amazing how a friendship like that can just pick up where we left off. It's a gift. And I don't plan on letting that many years go by again before our next visit.
We actually have nothing planned for this weekend. Nothing. Not. A. Thing. No parties, no picnics, not even much cleaning. We may take on the smallish painting project from our summer "to do" list, or we may just revel in doing nothing at all.