I was browsing the Living section on Huffington Post and came across this: Spiritual Lessons From Wine And Baguettes. How could I bypass so tasty a title? Especially as today is Bastille Day – the French national holiday?
And amazingly, I’ve reduced the Food Budget and found that I’ve lifted my own spirits.
By eating better. By allowing myself small pleasures.
For me, it is indeed a glass of Cabernet or the satisfaction of a good grainy bread with a morsel of chèvre. It’s soup made with fresh veggies and herbs I love. It’s salads with spinach and parsley, and a drizzle of lemon juice.
It’s taking the time to sit down and appreciate the food I’ve prepared, rather than seeing the process of feeding myself as an annoying interruption as I rush through the day.
Quality of Life
I’m terrible at slowing down. I admit it.
And most of the women I know are just as hampered by a tendency to overload, over-commit, and never feel as though it’s enough – or good enough.
When I lived in France, and even when I’ve traveled there on business, I’ve always been able to slow down just a little. My work output never suffered. My “sanity” levels skyrocketed. When I stayed for extended periods, I ate more – with gusto – and lost weight. My experience has been about getting things done and quality of life, whereas here we muscle through the days and weeks and months at a killing pace.
We’re worried about our marriages, our love lives, our kids. We’re mired in achieving the next milestone toward a goal, in figuring out where the dollars for orthodontia will come from, or how to hang on to our paying jobs – if we have them.
And we forget what comforts us.
We forget what sustains us.
Pacing Problems, Budget Bummers
There’s much that sustains me – paper and a pencil so I can write, conversation with a close friend, exercising my parenting profession, a vigorous walk, great food.
How easy it is to forget that food shouldn’t be an obsession, a cross to bear, a budgetary dilemma. Food nourishes both the body and the spirit, and we remember the former while forgetting the latter.
It’s certainly harder to do on a budget, but it can be done – at least to some degree. For instance I’ve recently found numerous reasonable wines for less than the cost of a Starbucks coffee. A baguette may run a dollar and a half. As for the cheese? Sure – if you’re watching your cholesterol you’d better be judicious in your selection, and moderate in your portions. But the point is really this – the pace at which we barrel through our lives is crazy.
We no longer stop to savor.
I will quote from Huffington Post article:
In my estimation, the French people have mastered the art of enjoying the moment…
The French Revolution, The American Dream
I think of France, and the revelations of my experiences there over the years. I learned the language, I made friends; I realized that appreciation isn’t the same as indulgence. One is about pure experience; the other is about judgment.
Then there is the American Dream, and how for many of us, it seems to go wrong.
But maybe it’s not so much that it goes wrong as it goes real. We come to understand the hard work in sustaining relationships (and there are no guarantees), the inevitability that some circumstances are beyond our control (despite a positive attitude), the job market may be treacherous (regardless of skills), parenting is tedious (no matter how much we love our children).
It endows us with perspective, recognizing the need for nourishment of the spirit.
I wonder if we would be so involved in our millennial dialogue of “presence” and “happiness” if we were able to feed ourselves – in a healthy fashion, and without guilt.
As for the reminder of the rhythms of daily life in France, we can leave the berets and baguettes if we wish, and still unwind over a meal or a coffee – alone or with a friend. And we can reconsider this: if it tastes, smells, sounds or feels good – maybe it is.
Even with a heap of headaches to manage this summer, I’m trying to savor – moments with my kids, a glass of wine, a bite of cheese. I’m learning, or more precisely – re-learning.
What about you?
- Does enjoyment feel like indulgence?
- What do you do to take a breath, and nourish your spirit?
- Is food a source of comfort, or conflict?