Ahh. That’s a sigh of contentment after the three day May Bank Holiday weekend here in Ireland. It was a particularly quiet one for me since in addition to having an extra day off from normal work, Flex in the City was closed and Jonathan was away for round two of his sailing course. And although I love all these things (ok – definitely less so when it comes to the day job, but I do love teaching at the studio and spending time with my husband!), I have to say that it was a pretty fabulous few days at home and around town for me and little Coco. The weather was nice, so we had some long walks and park playtime sessions, but I also had a lot of time for catching up on some of my own projects and personal work. As an extrovert, I think formerly I would have felt bored at some stages or like I had “squandered” the weekend, but as I get older and especially with all that I have learned throughout my Happiness Project over the past year, I have to say I loved it. A perhaps surprising, but very sad, fact is that many people often feel as though they are wasting their time outside of working hours. In Flow, Mihaly Czikszentmihalyi,explains that quite often when we have a more relaxed or less defined schedule, we can fall into a state of psychic entropy which is 1) not pleasant and 2) usually not the best use of one of our most precious of all resources – time. This can (and indeed should) mean different things for each of us, but I have come to increasingly appreciate having a purpose in leisure time.
One of the books that I read last summer which had a profound impact on me was 168 Hours and in it Laura Vanderkam cites several examples of very effective, successful people who seem to be impossibly scheduled. Some of them are CEOs of Fortune 500 companies, but still make time for exercise 5 days a week; not only providing for 6 kids, but also managing to read them books each night at bedtime and volunteering regularly. Vanderkam insists that one of the secrets to living life to the fullest is knowing what it is that we would like to do so that when the free time arises even unexpectedly, we can maximize the opportunity. Although it seems relatively banal or obvious, this is not something that I myself gave much consideration to prior to my Happiness Project and when I talk or hear about others, it seems that I was far from the only one. Sadly, we often fail to recognize the pockets of opportunity in our calendars and we lack purpose in leisure time, wasting away those limited hours in front of the TV or mindlessly scrolling through our social media feeds. There is nothing inherently wrong about doing either of these things of course, but they do often occupy more real estate in our schedule than we might like, crowding out more important or fulfilling activities. Additionally, we seldom feel energized or even refreshed and adequately relaxed afterwards.
Finding out what it is that I love to do and finding ways to structure my life to include more of those things has been the most valuable and transformative consequence of my Happiness Project. I have shared in the past some of the ways that I have determined what these “things” are for me is through considering what I liked to do when I was 10 years old, building my List of 100 Dreams, and considering what I would do with an unexpected free afternoon. And now that I know, I spent A LOT of time doing those things. As I was explaining to someone just the other day – I LOVE to work. Jon makes fun of me all the time, but I am genuinely happiest when I am busy either doing actual job work or when I am working on one of my personal projects. I love reading and researching, I love writing and working on the blog, I love taking and teaching barre and I love meal prepping and cooking in the kitchen. So this weekend included a lot of all the above. Getting stuff done not only gives me a sense of accomplishment, but also provides enjoyment in the process. And that makes sense, because according to Czikszentmihalyi, when we have a purpose in leisure time we are more likely to view it as satisfying and time well spent and we increase our opportunity for flow and positive emotions. He argues that we should be clear in our own minds at least about what it is that we would like to accomplish with a clear objective and/or goals and find ways to work towards them, while seeking out specific opportunities for feedback along the way. What we gain when we create meaning and purpose in leisure time is worth more than the sum of its parts.
The same thing is true when we do things which are aligned with our values or with our healthy living goals. When I feed myself delicious and nutritious foods which supports my health and lifestyle, I am sincerely, much happier. Food is a medicine with the power to heal you and to make you better than before. Which is why I am passionate about living a healthy life myself and hopefully inspiring others to do the same, whether that’s through teaching barre, coaching Whole30 participants, writing this blog, or sharing recipes like this new Whole30 Sweet Potato Crusted Quiche.
- Sweet Potato, Medium 3 each
- Eggs 8 Each
- Almond/Coconut Milk .5 cup (120 ml)
- Oregano 1 TBSP
- Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
- Red Onion, diced .25 cup (25 g)
- Garlic Cloves, minced 2 each
- Mushrooms sliced .25 cup (20 g)
- Red Bell Pepper .25 cup (45 g)
- Asparagus, chopped into 1" spears .5 cup (90 g)
- Medium Zucchini/Courgette, diced 1 each
- Tomatoes, chopped .5 cup (100 g)
- Spinach, chopped 2 handfuls
- Begin by baking the sweet potatoes in the one for about 45 minutes at 425 F / 220 C or until softened throughout.
- Once baked, remove the sweet potatoes from the oven and allow to cool slightly, peeling and discarding the skin.
- After slightly cooled, place the sweet potato in a blender or food processor to puree until smooth and creamy, then spoon it into a glass pie/quiche dish evenly. Make sure it is pressed up onto the sides of the pan as well. Then bake in the oven at 350 F / 180 C for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile chop all the veggies, if you are taking my advice on the veggies, I would start by heating 1 TBSP of avocado oil in a medium sautee pan over medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and allow to cook for about 5 minutes, until slightly softened and then add the garlic and mushrooms. Allow to cook until softened/sautéed throughout, probably another 5 minutes total then set aside.
- In a large bowl whisk the eggs with the almond or coconut milk and seasonings.
- Remove the sweet potato crust from the oven and place all the veggies, sautéed and raw, into the crust and then pour the egg mix over the top and return to the oven baking until the eggs are completely set in the middle about 30 minutes.