I pride myself on healthy eating.
It’s my thing.
But I’ve been slipping lately. I work from home. It’s intense and hurried. I cram my work into the times my children are at camp and daycare, and I cram my food in, too.
I love my job. I do. It’s dreamy. I work on a cause I believe in, use many of my skills, and get to work from home with flexible hours at a respectable salary. I’m lucky. It’s a privilege. Most people don’t get to balance their profession, family, and personal time like I do.
But somehow, with all this blessed flexibility, it’s still hard to take a break. You know what they say about how you can take the workaholic out of the cube, but you can’t take the cube...? No? Well, I said it, anyway. Now it’s a thing.
I work hard. I’ve been called “intense.”
Apparently, however, I’m the poster-worker for self-care and balance because I seem to be one of few people who has put parameters around my availability on evenings and weekends. With fibromyalgia and four kids, there is no way I could handle the 24-7 intensity so many others engage in.
Also, I guess I’ve learned the hard way in other jobs that if you say yes to everything, people will start to take you for granted. It actually devalues you, and it’s a trap many women fall into considering how so many of us want to make nice and please people¹, especially when you work in the helping professions and on social causes.
(Psst! Look at that! I figured out how to make a footnote!)
So, considering my poster-worker status, I was asked to co-lead a workshop on time-management and self-care at a training in a couple of weeks. Never one to present a training without doing some research, footnotes notwithstanding, I was googling around for resources on self-care and found some great materials at the University of Buffalo School of Social Work.
While I was reading them, I started thinking about how I need to take breaks and prioritize healthy eating, exercise, and getting outside. According to their self-assessment on whether you are burned out, I’m heading down that road. (Or else I’m just a chronically grumpy person who happens to be sleep-deprived thanks to my lovely children.)
Deciding to practice what I preach, I put together a healthy and delicious lunch of lentil salad, hummus, olive ciabatta bread, and watermelon (left-overs thanks to my husband) and took it outside to eat at our new table under an umbrella in the shade. I brought my iPhone but resisted checking emails and Facebook. Instead, I enjoyed the garden, the visiting hummingbirds, and decided to breathe deeply and focus on all the sounds of nature: chirping birds, a cawing crow, an occasional barking dog, and a neighbor’s clucking chickens.
Now, I’m someone who frequently drips food on my clothes, and looking down I saw a blob of hummus and lentils and quickly swiped it up and popped it into my mouth.
It wasn’t hummus.
Hummus isn’t gray and white and slimy and sourish.
I spit it out and gagged. I tried to eat my lunch, but kept gagging. I had to take extreme measures and just… let it all go. I ran inside and visited the porcelain throne. Goodbye lentils and hummus.
Goodbye olive bread.
And good riddance guano!
Annnnnndddd that’s the last time I’ll be taking a “healthy break” outside. It’s cookies at the desk from now on.
¹I’m sure there’s research on that somewhere on the internet.
What’s the grossest thing that ever happened to you?