Monday, February 22, 2010

When in Venice...

When I was in Venice, I was struck by how calm, happy, unstressed they were. I should add the disclaimer that both times, it was December. So, it was the holidays and there were few-to-no tourists. Venetians might normally be crazy-stressed, since my sampling is flawed.

But for the sake of the blog analogy, I'm going to run with the notion that Venetians are calm and relaxed.

My assumption was that it's hard to be frantic and harried when you can't have a car within the city limits. Biking, walking and boating are all fairly low-key ways to get to some place. So it changes the entire expectation of time for the entire city.

I loved it.

People were walking the streets, pushing their strollers (in high heels!), chatting away with friends. Sitting at cafes for hours.

And now I'm going to talk about food. It will come back to Venice, so bear with me.

Once we learned my kids' behavioral reactions and intolerances to food, it completely threw our entire cooking/eating/grocery shopping lives upside down. We can't do McDonald's, we can't do frozen pizzas. And some days, that seriously sucks. By the time I pull out soy and gluten for Simone, dairy and yeast and sugar-cane for Jack, and food dyes for Andrew...I'm left only cooking from scratch.

Sometimes, it's as quick as "real person" foods. This morning, I threw a roast and a bag of chopped frozen peppers into the crockpot. Dinner will be ready for me this evening. Nice. Other times, it's a frustrating reality to have limited food options that can just be microwaved and served.

But...

I love how it slows down our pace with eating. A bit like Venice (see, it wasn't a complete non sequitur). After throwing the roast in the crockpot (our "fast food"), I also started chopping some veggies to make a pan of roasted sweet potatoes. Dicing potatoes, then tomatoes, then adding onion, rosemary and olive oil. Simone was helping me dump all the food in. It's like taking a ferry to work. Forced to slow down the pace, so you might as well just relax and enjoy the ride.

I love cooking, so this might be a more soulful experience for me than for others. There's something really meditative about cutting and handling food for me. Then putting it in the oven and having the smells waft through the house.

It's making me think I want to slow down in other areas, too. It's odd how sometimes, something taking longer to do makes it less stressful. I think that about wood-working or painting. It forces you to embrace the activity...be in the moment.

I'm not sure how this will look in our life, but I want to keep that goal in mind. How do I take things slower, move more consciously?

At the Russian camp, we all met up before bedtime to drink tea and talk. I really appreciated this tone before bed, and have tried it at home. Instead of racing around before bed, just sitting down at the table in our PJs and drinking tea. Jack drawing, Andrew bouncing in the chair, and Simone wandering around the room. Just being together.

My goal for the next month: Slowing down the pace of what I do.

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