It is said that Americans consume 27.5 lbs. of sugar a year, which is an alarming statistic for sure. I often wonder how much of this consumption is tied to our emotional need to bring more sweetness into our lives. As more and more of our time is devoted to busy-ness and less time is spent on simple pleasures that make us feel good, we find solace in a quick sugar fix that satisfies temporarily but leaves us wanting once the high wears off.
What if, every afternoon, instead of reaching for that chocolate chip cookie, we took 15 minutes to indulge in an activity we really loved? Taking a walk outside and enjoying the flowers and sunshine, for example, or visiting travel websites to gather ideas for your next trip. Or writing a quick email to a friend you haven’t spoken to in awhile. Anything that gives us a feeling of satisfaction and connection will bring sweetness into our lives. It is amazing how strong the energy boost can be from feeding our true needs. Taking time to honor ourselves in this way not only powers us through an afternoon. It can create a habit that is sweeter than chocolate.
My dear husband just posted a rash of old photos on facebook and as I look at them, one thing jumps out at me: the bedrock of our family has always been the dining room table. Made of solid barn wood and heavy iron, it’s mass symbolizes the importance of the moments that have taken place there. It has scratches from hundreds of meals on it and each one is precious. It is the place that we can come to at least once a day to be nourished, stomach and heart.
If you haven’t noticed, I am wild about the family meal. From my children’s early years, it was very important to me to have a healthy, home cooked meal on the table at least 5 or 6 nights a week. Food, for me, has a language all it’s own. If cooked properly, it contains the love it is prepared with. It is a warm hug from the inside and a way to make sure I get the minimum vital nutrients into my loved ones, which is always foremost on my mind.
But something else has become apparent to me that is even better. There is a power in the ritual of the day in and day out of coming together. There is a foundation of care, a practice of showing up. The intuitive knowing by each family member that they are valued through the simple act of being provided a meal is a powerful thing. They can count on that sustenance and the communion that takes place during the process of eating it. This is how bonds are made, trust is developed, love is shared. And since each conversation at that table is not always a peaceful one, I would argue that learning compromise, negotiation and respect are also lessons to be had at the family table.
It is easy to grow weary after years, months, hours spent meal planning, shopping, food prepping and stirring the pot over a hot stove. Or after the many nights when a picky someone says they are not eating this meal in that passive-aggressive way of stalling and pushing their food around. But I revive myself when I look at those many photographs and understand that these are the moments when lives were formed. And no matter what city we live in, if we can gather around this table, we will be home.
*Dedicated to Chandler who gave me the idea for this post. XO