|Photo courtesy of Eileen Goodall on hubpages.com|
A few Sundays ago I attended a ridiculously sweet birthday brunch for a ridiculously sweet friend. Her vintage second floor flat with huge windows letting in the spring sunshine we longed for all winter was filled with the smell of fresh flowers, the sound of fresh fruit and veggies being chopped, and the sight of champagne, juices, and fresh fruit for a variety of mimosas and other sweet brunch cocktails.
I handed the birthday girl her gifts, some goods from Lush and a bottle sparkling mascoto, hung my jacket and handbag, and joined my friend in the kitchen. Her menu included everything from an asparagus feta cheese frittata to stuffed crepes with fresh strawberries, roasted beets with goat cheese and balsamic vinegar, to roasted potatoes with peppers and onions, to Persian cucumbers and humus to an almond cake. And, the list seriously goes on.
We talked, caught up, laughed, chopped, sliced, whisked, taste tested until our hearts were content. When the other guests arrived they joined in by making drinks and we sat, eating and talking until we were full.
|Photo courtesy of Emily of The Clever Carrot.com|
I didn’t just go home with an appropriately full stomach. I went home for full of energy and joy. I had mental lists of ideas for new recipes and snippets of great conversations to use as inspiration for my writing. I had a peaceful fully engaged in the present heart and mind. To be honest, I went home full of life. That doesn’t always happen for me on Sundays. I usually have to work extra hard to stay in the present on Sundays, enjoy the day, and not think about Monday, getting up at 5:30am, being in the continued strain of transition and culture change occurring in my suite and the campus, and all the challenges that work can bring especially serving those with metal health challenges. This Sunday I didn’t have to do that. In fact it reminded me of another Sunday a few weeks prior where the day was full of life. I spent the day feasting upon things that were life giving to me instead of life draining.
That’s what happens when we spend time nourishing ourselves. That’s what happens when we make time to feed ourselves with the things that add to our lives, enrich, inspire, and push us closer to our purposes. We feel appropriately full. I say appropriately because if you have ever stuffed yourself, you usually feel a bit lethargic afterwards and are wondering did you lose self control pre or post slice number 4 of the sundried tomato, spinach, and fresh mozzarella cheese pizza. When you nourish yourself with things that enhance your wellness you shouldn’t feel lethargic.
I’m not great at memorizing. While I have a great memory and often remember names, faces, and how to get to places, memorizing is not a skill I consider to be a strength. However, there are a few scriptures that I have memorized, hold close to my heart, and use as a guide in how I choose to live. One such verse is one that says “I came that you might have life, and have it to the full.” Yup, a foundational piece to my faith system is living a full life.
|Photo courtesy of designers Blithe and Vine featured in Social South Magazine|
Now, living a simply fed life which creates a full life does not mean stuffing your life with a variety of things to do. It does not mean go go go, and yes to every gallery opening, milestone birthday celebration, new restaurant opening, trunk show, bridal shower, baby shower, marathon, etc. Those are all super exciting, great opportunities to dress up (minus the marathon) and look fabulous, travel, meet with friends and make new ones, etc. They are also great opportunities to leave you drained and running on empty, feeling full of resentment for not being a better steward of your time, energy, and ultimately your life. They are great opportunities to leave you bloated aka full of gas but nothing nutritional and substantive.
If you’re going to LIVE fully you’ve got to feed yourself well. That’s everything from what you put in your body and on your body to what you allow your mind and spirit ingest. That includes how much exercise you make room for and rest you make room for. It also includes how often you allow yourself to be the go to for every one’s problems and how you frame challenges in your own life.
Feeding yourself well means reigning in all that isn’t well and figuring out how to let those things go to make space for the life giving things. It means everything from the music we listen to. I am a sucker for R&B. I love a good slow jam and a ballad. But I can only listen to so many songs about an inability to get over the person you loved and how they cheated. I enjoy watching television from time to time, but I can only watch so much especially with this influx of “reality” television programs that constantly has women talking terribly about each other and physically fighting. I am a foodie, and you all know this especially if you follow me @AhyanaJenise on Twitter. Yet, after a while the delicious happy hour cocktails, Latin fusion dishes, and milkshakes do have an effect not only on my waistline but the energy I have to do everything I need to do. I enjoy many of the people I work with across the university, but as the transitions on our campus take a toll some of the conversations have been consistently full of negativity, excuse making, blame shifting, and I have had to have conversations saying “We can’t talk about this stuff. It’s draining.”
|Eartha Kitt “Sweet as Honey” Photo courtesy of Cafleurebon.com|
Now once you start cutting out the life draining it’s time to beef up the enriching. Otherwise you go hungry. If you’re like me, sometimes I go way too long without eating and then when I do eat I over eat and sometimes that includes overeating things that are no good for me. When you make room for the things that feed you, allow you to be your truest and best self, those are the things you want to have more of in your life. If it’s enjoying the outdoors then wake up earlier to enjoy a walk in your neighborhood and then prep for work, or pick a night or two a week to do it after work or after dinner. If it’s learning and you are on a budget, there are free online classes offered through Coursera. Take a class. If it’s cooking like it is for me, then cook more and invite people over to enjoy the wonderful works of your creative mind and hands. If it’s travel, then travel. I have a separate savings account solely dedicated to traveling because traveling refreshes me. If its writing, write. Don’t censor, just write until your heart is content but before your fingers are gnarled.
We are LIVE-ing beings and we need those things that beget life to help us LIVE. We need meaningful filling Sunday brunches that we go to instead of church and we go not feeling guilty that we skipped church. We need trips to nearby cities like New York and Washington DC to be immersed in the culture of others, people watching and observing others engage in life, or observing the life of the universe as we sit on a park bench drinking a tall chai soy latte. We need to go everywhere save the bathroom with our cameras and capture the things that intrigue us, minister to us, speak to us, draw us out and in.
Do something that brings you life this week will ya? Feast on something that make you a better you and testifies to the reality of the existence of an abundant life. Nourish your mind, body, and spirit with that which your soul can say was a step closer to the purpose you were created for. Feed yourself so that when your finished you can say “That was delicious.”
|Photo courtesy of Gerti Deusch for Getty Images|