Active Aging, environmental, Integrative wellness, me time, rest, stillness, stress

GYST 2022 – Morning Coffee

A Perfect Cup

Nearly every morning my husband, Tom, brings me my first cup of coffee in bed. He gets up, even though he doesn’t have to go to work, goes downstairs, prepares a perfect cup, and carries it up to me. He then goes back down to get a cup for himself and climbs back into bed beside me. With our cat, Lilly, snuggled between us, we read the news, plan our day, or talk for nearly an hour before we get moving. This is our morning routine.

Morning routines are good things to have. They set the day in motion. Most of the advice I’ve read about morning routines have to do with exercise or meditation. Getting out of bed and getting your steps in, your heart racing, your body moving in some way. Or, spending that time reflecting and calming your mind. I have spent a lot of time feeling guilty that my first few minutes of the day have nothing to do with movement or meditation. I fight with myself over how I spend these precious minutes. One side of me stresses about how wasteful I am with my time, the other knows that doing this makes me happy. To give up these minutes would take away a big part of my relationship with Tom.

There have been times when I tried other ways of spending that first hour of the day. I’ve walked in the mornings, spent time in a coffee shop writing before work, morning yoga sessions with guided meditations. But there has been nothing that has been so satisfying and meaningful as the mornings spent in bed with my cup of coffee, Tom, and Lilly. 

In my “getting my shit together” year, I am trying to find ways to make improvements in my life and how I spend my time. Ways to be better organized and resourceful. Ways to get more stuff done while feeling less stressed about all that needs to be done. I could use this hour to do something more productive. I have so many “shoulds” that I want to complete each day. I have people who depend on me and my time. More and more people every day. At this time in my life, instead of my time becoming more my own, it is becoming less. In the past year I have three new challenges that are taking a considerable amount of my time and emotional energy. My “day late and dollar short” can now be measured in weeks or months. I never seem to be really on top of anything. I’m always mucking down in the heap of the mess as more and more gets thrown on. 

Even so, I’m not giving up this hour. From our bedroom window we can watch the sun come up over the mountains to our east. Life always seems a little bit more peaceful in the early morning. This hour is too important. Getting my shit together is not only about getting organized, it’s about making my life a life that is worth living every day. It is about enjoying my days more than not. It’s about in the end, looking back and knowing that there was purpose and meaning to why I was put on this earth. I’ve spent too many days in a flurry of activities that will mean nothing in the end. Time spent with Tom, friends, and family will always carry weight. This time will always have purpose and meaning. 

It’s now the middle of January of this GYST year. Also in the middle of this impressive increase in the number of Covid cases around us due to the Omicron variant. I have still managed to get quite a bit done. I am moving my dad across the country to live near me. I have secured an apartment for him. I’ve started getting it set up with furniture and basic living needs (with the help of some very good friends). I had guests in my house for the most of the first ten days of the year. I held a New Years Day dinner for nine. I have taken care of tasks (also with the help of a friend and co-guardian) of our new 65 year old “daughter”. I manage to keep the house somewhat clean and straightened, although not always to my liking. Sure, I don’t get meals cooked every night. I  don’t always have the laundry under control. My car is a disaster. The mail goes unopened for days. My email inbox is overflowing with junk. But I am learning that GYST doesn’t always mean those are the most important accomplishments. We (I) will survive if we have to pick up take out or just eat popcorn or pancakes (the only thing that Tom cooks) for dinner now and then. GYST is about being okay with those things. Life is not perfect. Sometimes GYST is about giving myself a break, and starting my day with a cup of coffee, a husband, a cat and a beautiful sunrise. 

environmental, Integrative wellness, me time, nutrition, stress

The 10 List – Meals Made Easier

How many of you don’t mind cooking meals but absolutely hate coming up with ideas of what to cook each day? If you are like me, this is the worst part of providing meals. My husband is no help in this area either. I ask “What sounds good for dinners this week?,” and his usual response is “I don’t care, whatever you want.”  Not helpful.

I read an article recently that stated that most of us eat the same ten meals over and over. Thinking back to what we eat each day, I realized that is probably true. But, if I am sitting down to do my weekly meal planning, or walking through the grocery store trying to come up with what to have for dinner that night, I find myself at a total loss for ideas. Either I can’t think of anything at that moment, or nothing sounds good. I can walk around a store for half an hour hoping something catches my eye. I get frustrated at the waste of time.

Realizing that we eat these same meals over and over, but that at any one time when I most need the information I can’t come up with a single one gave me an idea. I decided to make a physical list of our most common meals. I keep this list in two places. One is on the front of the refrigerator; the other is on my phone.

My list includes four to five easy, fast, healthy meals that I can put together when I get home from work with little or no effort. Three or four that are a bit more time-consuming for nights when I have more time, and the last two are a bit fancier, maybe for a lovely weekend meal with friends.

Having this list does not mean that these are the only meals I cook. If I happen to think of something else that sounds good, or come across a recipe that I find interesting and want to try, or on the rare occasion when my husband had an idea about what to have for dinner, I will undoubtedly deviate. I will modify the list at times. We may get tired of a particular meal. Maybe something we have tried recently makes a big splash. My summer list may have more fresh vegetables and salads. My winter list more soups and stews. I may put more of the easy meals on in the seasons when our weather is such that we can spend more time biking. Winter has more comfort foods. Summer more cold dishes.

Your list may have more or less than ten. You can structure it however you want. Maybe all your meals are easy and fast. Perhaps you and your family’s evenings are always filled with activities that don’t allow you time to prepare much, but you want to have better options than pre-packaged microwave blah. You may have all the time in the world to cook meals, but just have trouble thinking of what to prepare. The trick here is not the list itself, but having the list available to you when you need it; when planning your weekly meals before going to the store or when at the grocery store and trying to come with a dinner that fits your needs that night.

Sometimes it is the little things that add up to bring us down. Finding ways to make these little things just a bit easier is vital. When our minds get bogged down in trying to figure out the minute details of everyday sustainability, we have no space left for the things that matter. Every hour spent in planning meals or at the grocery store is time lost from doing the things we love. I would much rather use that space and time for the big stuff, or the fun stuff, or the comforting stuff. We all have to take care of the mundane. We just don’t need the mundane to take over us.