My highlight of the day? Reading a book called "Petunia" to nineteen 1st graders (I was subbing at the school I used to work at). #1, I LOVE to read to kids and put on the most ridiculous voices possible (which they think is hilarious), and #2, this book is just adorable! A silly goose finds a red book and decides that if she carries it around with her everywhere that it will make her "very smart and wise". All of the other farmyard animals start seeing her as the "smarty pants" too and begin asking her for advice and help, to which she always messes it up thoroughly and usually hurts them in the process. One example was that the animals found a box labeled "warning - firecrackers" and they asked Petunia what it said. Petunia, pretending she could read, tells them it says "candies" and then all the animals eat the firecrackers and die. JUST KIDDING. But they did open the box and did get scrapes and bruises from the firecrackers exploding. Petunia finally realizes she needs to actually READ the book in order to be more "wise". The kids were like "DUH" Mrs. Lodin hahaha!
Here's my favorite part though. As I'm very slowly reading the label on the box (for dramatic effect), the look on the faces of these 1st graders was priceless! Eyes got wide and their mouths dropped open a little bit (they were SO into the story)... and when I read that Petunia told the animals that there were "candies" in the box, audible "noooooo's", clenched fists, and worried looks filled my cute little audience. A couple of the boys looked like they were trying so hard to keep themselves from jumping up off of their mats!
Here's the point to my story - CHILDREN LIVE IN THE PRESENT. At that moment, I don't think ANY of those kids were thinking about what was going to happen in the next hour, or the fight they go into with their friend at recess, or their homework for the day. They were just PRESENT, in the moment, caught up in the book, with not a worry in the world (other than Petunia and her friends getting blown up). And I admire that. Obviously that is an extreme that you can't live in as an adult, but the other extreme that many people (especially me) go to is focusing too much on the "next task", worrying about possible things going wrong in the future or things that have gone wrong in the past... and THAT is a bad extreme.
I've also been realizing lately how your mind can directly affect your physical health. I've become recently aware that I'm a stress addict. Yes. There is such a thing. The Article "Stress Addicts Anonymous" from the Whole 9 talks about how "The Type A individual has perhaps become addicted to his [or her] own adrenaline, and unconsciously seeks ways to get those surges”, which causes your body to be CONSTANTLY exhausted and leaves you vulnerable to SERIOUS health issues. Being present helps reduce stress.
Therefore, because I LOVE goals, here are my top 3 goals to practice living in the present:
1) Be PRESENT when with family, friends, and most importantly, the people you live with such as your significant other & children. I heard about a group of friends that whenever they go out to dinner, they stack all of their phones up at the end of the table. First person to reach for their phone buys everyone else dinner! I LOVE that idea, but honestly don't struggle as much with being present when I'm out to eat with friends... odd thing is, it seems to be most difficult to be present with the people we love the most (which is completely backwards). I got into this bad habit a while ago that whenever my husband and I were watching a tv show, I would get out my computer and multitask - responding to emails, working on my blog, updating the calendar, etc. I have to admit, I'm an amazing multitasker and could still tell you everything going on in the tv show, but that's not the point. It's definitely not a good definition of "quality time" to my husband. So don't. Electronics are ruling our lives these days. Limit them.
2) Focus on the details. The other morning as I was walking my dog, I made a resolution that for that walk, I would not think about my to do list for the day, but rather, focus on the details around me and enjoy them. I found joy in actually watching butterflies on a flower, focused on breathing deeply and found out that the air smelled like crisp ocean delightfulness (seriously why had I never realized this before), and actually felt the sun warming my face. Last time that happened? Um...? And my stress level upon returning home after the walk? The equivalent of a 1/2 hour yoga class where you've kinda fallen asleep at the end during savasana (corpse pose) because you're so relaxed. That may or may not have happened to me before...
3) STOP WORRYING. Ok, that's totally impractical and unrealistic. Try this - Be AWARE of how much you worry and repeat to yourself mantras to limit it. My husband reminds me all the time that, "Worrying is like a rocking chair. It will give you something to do but won't get you anywhere". The hubs and I went to Europe and stayed at an AirBnB recently. The owner wasn't able to stay there so she had a friend at her apartment and there were some miscommunications about the check out time. I was SO WORRIED that the owner was going to leave us a bad review on AirBnB (not good if you ever want to use the service again). I worried, wrote up the response that I would post if she gave us a bad review, etc. Eventually she did give us a review, but it just basically said there was a miscommunication but that we were nice people. I felt like SUCH an idiot realizing I had WASTED TIME and energy dwelling on something that happened in the past and that I had no control over anyway! GOAL: Repeat to yourself the mantra of "what is done is done. The only thing you can do is change your actions in the future". Oh and I like the rocking chair one too.
Final quote to leave you on:
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
Now that I'm done ranting, here's the recipe! *UPDATE: I recently tried this recipe with spaghetti squash instead of the zucchini noodles and LOVED it even more! I added in that option below to the instructions and the recipe so that you have a choice!
Gluten Free Zucchini or Spaghetti Squash Spaghetti Pie
Prep Time: 35 minutes Cook Time: 35 minutes Servings: 6
Choose your base: 4 organic zuchinis (spiraled) or 1 large Spaghetti Squash
1 1/2 lbs. grass-fed ground beef
5 tsp. salt
2 tsp. of an italian blend (I used 1/2 tsp. of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary, & sage)
1 jar of organic tomato sauce if you don't have time to make it yourself (see my "Ingredients Recommendation List" for my standards and pointers for buying this)
1 tsp. organic grass fed butter
1 c. cheese of your choice (Mozzarella is the best!)
2 tbsp. olive oil
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup almond milk
ZUCCHINI BASE INSTRUCTIONS: Wash the zucchinis and cut off the ends. Next, using a julienne peeler or a vegetable slicer, spiral the zucchinis! I recently bought the Paderno Spiral Vegetable Slicer on Amazon - ummm SO WORTH IT! And I kinda felt giddy like a little kid... it was way too much fun to spiral them haha.
Put the spirals into a colander and sprinkle them with 4 teaspoons of salt to absorb some of the moisture. Don't worry, you will wash off most of this salt, it's just to help dry out the zucchini. Let it sit for 30 minutes. Make sure the colander is either in a bowl or over a sink because there WILL be a lot of water that drains out of it from the zucchini! Put a pot of water onto the stove and bring to boil. After the 30 minutes is up for the zucchini spirals, put them into the pot of boiling water and boil them, stirring frequently for about a minute. Next, remove them and place them back in the colander, rinsing them with cold water. This will stop them from cooking further and also help rinse any remaining salt off. Set aside on paper towels to continue the draining. Zucchini sweats a LOT, so that's why there are steps you have to take so that your meal doesn't have too much liquid in it.
Heat up 2 tbsp. of olive oil in the same pan you used for the meat. Mince 2 cloves of garlic and fry them in the oil until fragrant. Next, put the zucchini into the pan and stir fry for about 5 minutes, or until they look like they've lost more moisture and are a little golden.
SPAGHETTI SQUASH INSTRUCTIONS: preheat oven to 450 degrees, cut the squashes in half, scoop out seeds, lightly oil and season insides (salt and pepper), and place flesh side down on tin foil on a cookie sheet. Bake for 40 minutes and then remove and scrape out the insides with a fork (be careful though because it will be really hot)!
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees (or decrease the temperature if you already used it for the spaghetti squash). In a large pan, begin browning the grass fed beef (sprinkling on it your desired seasonings - I used the remaining tsp. of sea salt, and 2 tsp. of an italian seasoning blend). As you are getting close to finishing the meat, Continue cooking the meat until it JUST barely all browned (you DON'T want to overcook grass fed beef - keep it juicy!). Remove from heat and put in a separate container.
2. Butter the a 9x13 glass baking dish and spread the spaghetti squash or zucchini noodles (whichever you chose) out on the bottom.
3. Mix the eggs and milk and pour over the zoodles or spaghetti squash. Stir in with a fork.
4. Spread the ground beef out on top of the noodles or spaghetti squash and cover the ground beef with the shredded cheese.
5. Finally, finish with the jar of spaghetti sauce on top of it all.
6.. Bake at 350 degrees for 35-40 minutes, or until you see bubbles on the outside edges.
What are your thoughts on how to live "presently"? Anything you have found to help?