Throughout conversations in my recent travels and with my visitors this weekend, I have come to the amazing realization that it has already been almost TWO years of our living in Ireland. This is shocking to me and proof of the fact that the although the days themselves seem to be long, the years are in fact quite short and time absolutely does fly by. A common theme for my 2017 has been on the topic of using the resources that I have at my disposal to live a more satisfying, meaningful, and happier life. Over the past several months, I have been studying and reading extensively on the topic and it seems that everywhere I go, I am being constantly reminded of this subject.
For example, just yesterday morning at Grace Church (which I very highly recommend if you are living in Cork and looking for a church – I guarantee it is much different from the traditional Mass services you may have grown up with!), the brilliant Pastor Michael O’Donovan presented a message entitled “More or Less” which focused on living a life without regret. He, in his typical animated and humorous manner, reminded us that although the idea of “going with the flow” may be attractive, and certainly popular, it is actually the things which are dead that go with the flow as opposed to the living fish which often exert effort to swim against the current in order to get to where they want to go. In light of this, he challenged us to consider that to live a life without regret, we must begin with the end in mind. We should count the costs of the things that we aspire to do, planning ahead and laying the proper foundation to avoid collapse under later pressure or challenges. When you consider how much time you have already been given throughout the course of your existence thus far (if you are 30, you have lived at least 10,950 days, 262,800 hours, and 15,768,000 minutes!) you begin to gain some perspective, wondering what you have accomplished in that time, and how you will spend your days, hours, and even minutes moving forward. You begin to feel some sense of urgency to consider those things which you might do more of, as well as those things that you should do less of in order to achieve a life of significance and free from remorse.
This might translate to:
- Less comparing, more contentment
- Less griping, more gratitude
- Less entertainment, more education
- Less greed, more giving
- Less dreaming, more doing
And once we identify what is that we want to do or accomplish, we need, obviously, to do something about it. Today it’s all too easy to portray a certain lifestyle on social media or in our day-to-day interactions which is not exactly representative of reality. Authenticity is invaluable and so is living a life that you are proud of. That being said, time is absolutely our most precious resource and it is up to us to spend or invest it wisely. I am currently reading Laura Vanderkam’s 168 Hours: You Have More Time Than You Think, which has been challenging me to accept the fact that the everything that I do and the way that I spend my time is ultimately my choice. Rather than thinking “I don’t have time for that,” I am coming to find that it’s almost always a case of “that’s not a priority for me.” When we find ourselves longing for an extra 15 minutes to read or play an instrument, or thinking that we would actually exercise if we had just another 30 minutes more in the day, we should begin to critically (and painstakingly if need be) take the time to assess what we do do and how we can shift our schedules or make adjustments to allow for the things which are truly contributing to our end goals.
While not nearly as transcendent a concept (albeit a very practical application), in many ways developing habits like meal planning and prep can help us to maximize the lives we want to live. With a small investment of energy and a few hours on the weekend, I save a tremendous amount of time for more important or meaningful things during the week. I don’t have to choose between eating healthfully or doing the activities I want to do even after a full day of work, because I drastically reduce the time required for cooking real food. Healthy eating is extremely important to me and I truly do love cooking, but I also love barre, reading, walking Coco, spending time with Jon, writing my blog, etc.. My weekly prep not only ensures that I don’t make compromised food decisions because I am short on time, energy, or patience, but it also makes being healthy a sustainable lifestyle. It makes more room for things which matter, which makes me happy and supports my goals, while presumably bolstering my vitality and adding a few extra days, hours, and minutes to my life.
It doesn’t have to be arduous, but washing and chopping your produce, making a few marinades or sauces, or roasting some vegetables for side dishes in advance can really make a big difference when you come home Tuesday night starved for dinner and for time. If you are struggling to get started, I did write more about some tips and tricks/how exactly I approach meal planning and preparation here. This week my meal prep lineup included:
- Sauces: Dairy Free Pistachio Pesto, Chimichurri Sauce, Paleo Mayo, Ghee, and Bone Broth
- A Whole Roasted Chicken for my lunches which I will pair with already washed greens, chopped veggies and one of the sauces
- Side Dishes: Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Roasted Zucchini/Courgettes, Roasted Fingerling Potatoes, and Riced Cauliflower
- Breakfast Options: Artichoke and Leek Frittata and Green Smoothie Muffins
- Snacks: Pumpkin Spice Latte Truffles, Coconut Yogurt, Whole30 Granola, Hard Boiled Eggs, and portioned bags of nuts to take on the go
- Diced veggies for snacking and for a chicken soup I’ll make in my InstantPot later in the week