After relaunching my new website, I have received a lot of positive feedback and support. I love to hear that people are interested in hearing more of our stories. The past few weeks the “busy-ness” of life has really picked up and it has tested my resolve to “slow down and stay connected.” It is much easier said than done and really hard to do when the to-do list is longer than there are hours in the day. I recently saw a “time block” exercise where you use highlighter to color code each part of the day. It made my heart sink when I saw the example where the majority of the day was yellow, indicating work, there was a little bit of orange for personal time, and a sliver of green for family time. It seems that our societies priorities, with regards to managing our time, are backwards. We spend so much time working to support our families while having very little time to enjoy time together. I understand the realities of having to work hard to support our families but that means when we do have time together, we really need to enjoy that time. It is ironic because it is typically at the end of the day, when everyone is exhausted, and it’s time for dinner, bedtime routines, and finishing up the tasks of the day. Is it possible to enjoy this time together? I would argue yes but it requires a conscious effort, some practice, and a whole lot of patience.
I was recently interviewed by Women On a Mission for their podcast and the conversation turned into a conversation about “slowing down and showing up”. If you would like to hear more about my thoughts, check it out here.
I still need reminders to practice staying present. A stressful work day last week sent me into a tailspin. My mind starts going a million miles per hour, my tummy gets ties into knots and I go into work mode. On the same day my oldest daughter lost her very first tooth and I was reminded, yet again, to focus on what matters most. These special moments with my little girls is what we will remember years from now.
We have been home from our summer abroad for 2 months now but there are a few things I learned from Europeans that I am trying to emulate at home. If there is a culture that really knows how to BE present, to slow down, and to connect, it is the Italians and Croatians. Below are a few of the things I learned and how I am trying to apply them at home.
How to enjoy “being” while in the day to day grind...
4 letters: N-A-P-S
Europeans are known for taking an afternoon nap and while I am not sure I can fully incorporate that into my daily schedule it is something I will definitely try to partake in without feeling guilty. Why has it taken me this long to embrace a nap? A little afternoon reset is amazing!
No time for a nap? Try a 10-20 minute silent meditation in a quiet space. It try to do this during my girl's nap time. I set the timer for 20 minutes and either meditate or nap.
Coffee is Key:
“Life starts after caffeine” but not in the I-need-my-stimulant-to-get-going way, but more of the daily ritual of enjoying a good cup of coffee. Another thing I learned from the Europeans is that coffee is NOT meant to be taken to go. I am truly trying to carve out 10-20 minutes to sit & enjoy my coffee. It has become my ritual to enjoy coffee first thing in the morning with my youngest daughter. She enjoys a latte of just whipped coconut or hemp milk and I a good cappuccino. My Starbucks drive thru runs have become less frequent as there is something wonderful about slowing down an enjoying coffee out of a porcelain mug.
Go for a Walk & Just breathe:
In Europe it is common to walk every where. Walking has the cathartic ability to reset your mood and energy level. Unfortunately in our culture we do not get to walk enough during the day. Stepping outside to take a few breaths is also a good way to enhance your mood or get through a stressful situation. This sounds so obvious and so simple yet I often forget to take deep breaths. It is amazing how a few deep breaths in the middle of a stressful situation, like trying to get the kids out the door to school on time, can really help to alleviate a stressful situation.
Connect over long meals:
It is customary in Italy and Croatia to enjoy a long meal in the middle of the day, followed by a break for a nap and time to digest. I know that is not realistic here in the States so dinner time has become the customary family meal to share together. Even then, dinner time can be a stressful event with busy schedules, homework, and extracurriculars. It is my family’s goal to make dinner time a priority. It is our time to disconnect from the outside world, to share stories from the day and bond. If you're interested, my intention is to share more ideas on dinner time routines (and recipes) that we have in place, to make sharing a nightly meal together an enjoyable reality rather than constant struggle.
In the meantime here is a go to recipe that can be prepped in 10 minutes, left to cook in the slow cooker for a few hours and ready for dinner time to take some stress off of mealtime food prep. I love using my slow cooker for just that reason. Next Sunday, I am hosting a meal prep workshop where all attendees join me in the kitchen to make 10 meals to take home, freeze and prepare at a later date in the slow cooker, Instant Pot, or oven.
Chef Shayna Stuffed Bell Peppers
6 Bell Peppers
1 lb ground beef
1 can black beans
1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice and/or quinoa
1 1/2 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
1 Can diced tomatoes with Green Chilies
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
Salt & Pepper
Remaining 1/2 cup cheese
Fresh cilantro, chopped
5 minute prep time:
Slice off top of bell pepper and remove seeds & membrane.
In a large bowl combine the remaining ingredients. The ground beef does not have to be cooked.
Fill each pepper, packing down the mixture.
Place in the slow cooker on high for 2 hours or low for 4 hour.
During the last 30 minutes sprinkle shredded cheese on top & place lid on until cheese melts. Garnish and serve.
*If you have more time you can cook ground beef and sauce onion and garlic in the same pan before mixing together the remaining ingredients